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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The 2016 Story That Daily Newspapers Want You To Ignore

At the end of every year, it's expected that blogs and newspapers tell you about the big stories over the previous year. The only person who really has this down is The Morning Call's Bill White. He always has a hilarious year-end wrap up. I usually play it straight. This year, as I began looking through about 1,000 posts on my blog over the past 12 months, the story that really stood out to me is one that the daily newspapers will never tell you. The top story is they have pretty much stopped covering the actual news.

Many of my stories about  the political corruption in Allentown are covered in both dailies. Bethlehem still gets some coverage. My series on gerrymandering  was covered thoroughly by Bill White. But this is the first year in which I exposed some significant stories that newspapers ignored.

My daily readers are aware of the strides that Amy Trapp and Dan Keen have taken to clean out some of the dead weight at Northampton County's jail. But there's been absolutely no coverage in the dailies. The political corruption in Nazareth, which included a Mayor skimming from poker machines and raids at the social clubs, was only covered after charges were filed and newspapers could no longer turn a blind eye. The Express Times actually hid from a major story occurring right under their own noses, in which Easton Mayor Sal Panto created two false names on the newspaper's reader forum to bully anyone who disagreed with him, while sanctimoniously attacking. That story was ignored until Panto was sued for defamation by one of his targets.

Though it is provided an office at taxpayer expense, The Express Times no longer covers Northampton County government. It produced no story concerning this year's budget. Or the appointment of an Administrator with multiple tax liens. ... Or the appointment of an EMS Director engaged in a blatant conflict of interest, in which he approves payments to his own father.  It has failed to cover a Council meeting since the end of summer.

That newspaper has stopped covering Bethlehem Township for nearly a year.

The Morning Call is slightly better. It will send reporters or freelancers to cover some meetings. But not nearly with as much frequency as it once did.

According to a 2015 Brookings Institution study, the number of newspapers per hundred million population fell from 1,200 in 1945 to 400 in 2014. Over that same period, circulation has declined from 35 percent to under 15 percent and the number of journalists has decreased from 43,000 in 1978 to 33,000 in 2015.

Some local governments have reacted to this vacuum in local coverage by using social media in an effort to reach the public. Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez sets aside one morning each month for the public,and his Chief of Staff has several news releases each week.Bethlehem Township also has a "Meet the Commissioner" policy once each month at the community center. They also are taking advantage of Facebook, Twitter Snapchat and Nixel. Tiny West Easton videotapes every meeting. Those are governments that at least try to be transparent and accountable.

But most governments love the lack of scrutiny.

Northampton County, for example, has a "new" website that actually contains less data than its predecessor. No contact information for elected Council members. It's an atmosphere in which someone engaged in payments to his father can get a major raise unanimously. It's one in which law clerks can be paid obscene sums of money and make careers out of holding a judge's robe,and even get a stipend on top of that salary. The second highest ranking county employee can be appointed despite having no education, no experience,six tax liens and a home in foreclosure.

This is how democracy dies.  


Anonymous said...

It may be that neither paper has the angry personal agenda against Mr. Brown and Nazareth boro government that you have. According to your sensation b reporting, the sticker goons are really heroes and Northampton County under Brown is a gateway to Hell.
In other words, you are an angry jaded person guided by your emotions rather than logic. Fortunately the newspapers have not hit that point.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Constable cRaZy, The sticker Gang that you tried to vilify has been vindicated, and the ET is providing no coverage of the county at all, opening the door to nasty people like you. Go plant some Trump signs.

Ray Nemeth Sr said...

The newspapers are a victim of demographics, I don't know of any of the younger generation that buy a newspaper or ever will. There has not been much true reporting by newspapers for years. They are handed a press release, which they mostly copy, unless it competes with one of its dwindling advertisers or political friends. Sadly the newspaper has become a vehicle to distribute sales flyers. I just don't see how this can be turned around.

george schaller said...

7:58 almost has it right but I find nobama toilet tissue too abrasive even for dog dodo, the developmental advertiZmentalists are covering for local political pandering corruption! This has become a triboro asset sale selloff that has turned into the sale of blight and degredation that crosses the nation in this collective criminal collusion.
The politically corrupt go after the elderly when selling there homes to do this and that, but when the qwick flipp is in pay to play blight can be moved faster than a toilet flush using nobama to wipe? The people filling these tenaments must live in henious conditions because the property management teams are missmanagment at best aquired by the local code derilicts under goverance guidence?
Putting lipstick on a pig at least makes for a colurful carnival circus sideshow!
REpublican redd
humanist by design

Anonymous said...

APPALLING! The 115th Congress voted to gut the independent House ethics committee responsible investigating allegations of wrong doing. The niw want to lut it under a committee where there is politicsl control. My, my, my, how the Swamp Deepens as we inch closer to Jan 20th. I like to know how our PA leguslators voted. I could not find the roll call vote yesterday.

Also, it is beginning to look like Trump will keep deferring public notice and action of how he intends to reslove his many business conflicts of interest. Furthermore, it appears he will never release his tax returns and will continue to thumb his nose at We The People.

Gary Cordner said...

Good year-end pick, Bernie. Way over here in Western Lehigh I'd say the big story continues to be warehouses and trucks. In the Borough of Macungie we feel the brunt of it even though the warehouses are all in the township.

Regarding openness and transparency, we see an East Penn Press reporter at nearly every Council meeting, but rarely anyone from the Morning Call. Luckily we haven't been generating much big news (knock on wood). I think we're doing a fairly good job of keeping our residents informed via our website, borough and PD Facebook pages, Nextdoor, Nixle, and Swift911.

Anonymous said...

I blame the public more than the few remaining dailies for the unreported corruption and BS in their midst. People for the most part don't give a damn if they ever did. Public meetings draw only a few solid citizens who at least care what is going on in their towns and townships. Playing devils advocate..why would any scummy, politically astute elected person in power be forthcoming at all with the people in the cheap seats? No reason to do so..no watch dogs ever show up to out them. They are never held accountable and run rough shod over the public's right to know. Sad times.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am not going to host a debate between Trumpions and Obamites. This story is about the death of newspapers.

Anonymous said...

9:00 you're a victim of "Fake News" and the fact that it is being repeated by so many outlets does not make the it any less fake. The House sets its own rules, and it would actually be an encroachment on the separation of powers for Trump to tell it to do otherwise. Furthermore, Republicans have been in control of the House since 2011 and have left the Office of Congressional Ethics alone.

Anonymous said...

Edward Snowden killed news and newspapers by exposing them for what they are.

Snowden's revelations has shown the man behind the curtain. All news is fake in that it has an agenda beyond being a resource for information.

Every news bureau and blog is engaged in Manufacturing Consent.

Gary Cordner said...

10:48, it's not fake news that the House R's caucus voted to eliminate the independence of the ethics office. Reports say that accused congressmen have been unfairly tarnished by complaints and investigations that turned out to be unfounded or unsubstantiated -- that's a fair concern if correct. But pulling it back under the control of the very people it's supposed to watch over doesn't seem like an improvement in government transparency and accountability.

Anonymous said...

There will be a very long list of ailments associated with the inevitable death of newspapers. High among them will be the consolidation and conglomeration of various media companies that eliminated competition and independent spirit of those institutions.

Every business should look to make a profit and look for ways to improve bottom line operating costs, but the unending pressure from Wall Street for these companies to make their short term quarterly #'s forced these changes that ultimately weakened their product.

Hopefully your blog and others like it, will continue to grow and fill the void as the Morning Call and Express Times continue their slide into oblivion.

Not sure if its just me, but the ET website is becoming increasingly unreadable with slow page load times and browser crashes associated with the various ads and auto loads they have. Again, I know they need to maximize their revenue streams wherever they can, but eventually people will just give up on using the site.

Scott of Nazareth

Anonymous said...

Grass roots news blogs are going to have to fill the void. Reporters are just not going to be made avail. for meetings other than those with the biggest local impacts. Grew up reading the papers and credit them with helping to educate myself and the masses but evidently no one has the time to read anymore. The dumbing down of Amerika in full speed ahead mode.

Anonymous said...

Does Mr. Weaver have a a clue that th ethics Commission is on its way? Why hasn't this man been charged criminally? Oh thats right- Must be Morganelli's bud huh?

Anonymous said...

I stopped reading The Morning Call a couple years ago when every story seemed to be:

Top 5 things you need to know today

10 takeaways from last nights game/meeting/party

Top 10 polls for every sport every week (who cares)

Predictions for high school football and basketball games (who cares)

Anonymous said...

Way would and ethics commission be any more ethical? Just another layer of government that's has already been infiltrated.

Anonymous said...

1048, Respectfully, I do not subscribe to non mainstream papers or news outlets for news. It appears the proposed changes to the Ethics Committee are real. This commission provides oversight of the House. It should not be a political tool.

I regret mentioning Trump in the same post as these are separate issues, however tied to ethics in general.

Anonymous said...

"This commission provides oversight of the House"

Just another revolving door.

You are getting into infinite regression here, who will provide oversight to the commission?

Anonymous said...

"This is how democracy dies"

Barabbas over Jesus? Lets vote, and let the best man win.

Democracy doesn't work towards the best outcome. Maybe what you're pointing out is the best proof.

Gary Cordner said...

Plan B, proposal rescinded, study until August.

Bernie O'Hare said...

12:31, I doubt Morganelli even knows this guy.

Anonymous said...

"Outfoxed" came out in 2004 and now 13 years later we're seeing "fake News" being talked about....little late to the party or what?

Didn't everyone see Outfoxed? I thought it was like the Zapruder film.

Anonymous said...

Newspapers, you r blog, all the same. You cover what you want and don't report on what you don't want. Your coverage or lack of it is a s biased and unpredictable as the print media. The difference is the mainstream media still has journalistic integrity and will try to be objective. You have never been objective, protecting your friends and going after your enemies.

Bernie O'Hare said...