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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Print Media Plays Catch-Up in Sara Packer Case

For many years, I've attended news conferences about all kinds of local issues, involving both the print and broadcast media. Up until a few years ago, the print media would turn up their noses at the broadcast journalists, who usually would arrive late and unprepared. While print media peppered politicians with pertinent questions, the TV types would ask questions like, "What's your favorite color?"

Those days are gone. Despite being supplied with taxpayer subsidized offices, the coverage that daily newspapers provides concerning county government is abysmal. The Express Times has failed to send a reporter to cover NorCo government for months.It's been over a year since a real reporter, as opposed to a freelancer, has been there.The Morning Call is only slightly better. It still sends a real reporter to cover most Council meetings, but is absent or late from numerous committee meetings. WFMZ-TV69  has a reporter at every meeting, and sends someone to cover many of the townships and boroughs as well. One news source is still making an effort to hold government accountable

While the daily newspaper coverage has been shallow or nonexistent, just the way government likes it, TV reporting has grown by leaps and bounds. DA John Morganelli actually commended WFMZ-TV69 over its coverage of the Stockertown firing range, which eventually led to the prosecution of the person responsible for firing at people's homes.

The coverage that WFMZ-TV69 and NBC10 provided of the Sara Packer prosecution has caught print media flat-footed. I have told you that NBC10's Deanna Durante first reported about Sara Packer's employment as an adoption supervisor on December 28, but WFMZ-TV69 made the connection even earlier, on December 23. Despite having their own taxpayer-subsidized offices at the courthouse, both dailies yawned and celebrated Christmas. Only this week have they begun to cover an important story, and one that includes a county administration that is unwilling to do anything to reassure the public or defend beleaguered caseworkers.

Because of all the cutbacks, the only reporters left at the dailies are those who've been conditioned to keep their heads down and not speak out.The ones who did ended up at WFMZ-TV69.

So Tuesday, when Willie Reynolds was presenting his eight-point Bethlehem 2017 plan, one of the reporters asked whether anything had happened to prompt him to recommend campaign finance limits. What she was really asking is whether the shitstorm he took over Martin Tower made him realize he needed to do something. But she couldn't ask that question. She's learned to keep her head down.

And so it goes.

This and other blogs attempt to hold power accountable, but we lack the audience. Ironically,the persons they used to sneer at are doing what they once did.

When that stops, this democracy will officially be dead.


Anonymous said...

ET online (LVL) has become little more than an exercise for "reporters" to rewrite stories they scrape from other websites. The ones they actually write themselves are often at a HS level. The LVL website is filled with more ads than content. Advertising disguised as reports (listed among their stories), ads on the sidebars, above and under the header, pop-ups, side slide-ins, header slide-ins, and most annoying - those full page ads that take up the entire screen, forcing you to click the "X" to close them.
The only thing keeping that paper afloat is the legal advertising.

Anonymous said...

Nov. 8, 2016: The day the journalism died. Bad news on the doorstep.

Anonymous said...

I previously worked at the E-T/LVL. Got out on my own in 2013 when they made the decision to print the paper in Staten Island instead of locally. Pretty easy to realize that the ship was sinking at that point.

This piece strikes a chord because every night at 10 one of the local editors (back when that role even existed) would say "Hey, someone turn on clown news". This meant to turn on channel 69 to make sure we weren't missing a late breaking story.

Well the editor who said that nightly is one of the dirty dozen or so left on the Titanic here in 2017. Guess what? E-T/LVL has become clown news.

Anonymous said...

@3:42 "ET online (LVL) has become little more than an exercise for "reporters" to rewrite stories they scrape from other websites."

Give it a fancy name like aggregation and curation and that legitimizes it. What it really amounts to is laziness and borderline plagiarism. Welcome to journalism in 2017.

Anonymous said...

Just close up ET and get out of town.

george schaller said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

George, If you haven't even read the article, why in earth are you commenting?

Frank Baran said...

I can't fathom why the Easton Express-Times does such a poor job in covering Northampton County government. For heaven's sake, the reporters don't have to trek to Timbuktu. The newspaper's office is only six or seven blocks from the courthouse. An ambitious reporter might walk there and return with the news. You are spot-on about the decline of print journalism. Back in the day, Fred Walter was the Express Times reporter for the Slate Belt and Monroe County. He hustled. But he always had a stories that were fair, accurate and detailed. When I was a reporter in Stroudsburg, we had two reporters covering the courthouse beat. Today's print journalism is a sorry state of affairs. It's a shame.

Frank Baran said...

Oops. Mistake on my part. In rewriting the third sentence from the bottom, I failed to remove the article "a." That's why writers should have good editors.

Anonymous said...

Frank, back in the day the E-T had a Belvidere bureau now they don't even cover that region. They will say they do and if something sensational goes on there they will put a body on it, but day-to-day ... forget about it. When is the last time they covered a County Seaters football or basketball game?

Anonymous said...

"When that stops, this democracy will officially be dead."

Couldn't agree more. I often disagree with your political views, but appreciate the service you provide.

Anonymous said...

The democracy can't stop because it never started. We live in a representative republic.

Bernie O'Hare said...

In other words, a democratic republic. Of course we are not a pure democracy.

Anonymous said...

"Deep state oligarchy" with a gigantic helping of bread and circuses.

Or you could make a word salad of democratic, republic, representative, pure, not like anyone really knows at this point.