Slim Times For American Newspapers. Good!

January 28, 2009

American newspapers are dying. Let us celebrate, since in their extinction lies the only hope for journalism—and (as I will illustrate via my recent experience with the Gannett-owned Asbury [NJ] Park Press) for the patriotic immigration reform so desperately needed by the American nation.

In former Times (that's Times with a capital "T") it would have been unthinkable to say such a thing. Newspapers were journalism and journalism was newspapers. But those days are long gone, and it's not just because of talk radio and the internet.

What we have in these Times are newspapers engaging in the fraud of providing propaganda in the guise of journalism. Until these publications disappear, journalism as we once knew it can't make a comeback.

Of course, reporters, and even editors, have always been human. But when even a small city would have several competing papers, it was unlikely that one paper could for long get away with fooling the public.

Additionally, newspapers were largely owned, edited and to a considerable degree staffed by people who actually were from the town about which they wrote. Thus, when you got the Sheboygan (Wis.) Press, The Indianapolis Star or the Florence(Ala.) Times-Daily it was a pretty sure thing that when you read an editorial, the news pages, the women's page—whatever—you were reading something written or at least edited by someone who had roots in that city.

Not so today. The people writing the editorial in the Hendersonville (N.C.) Times News or "reporting" about events in the Asbury Park Press are corporate gypsies who come from someplace else via some school of journalism located somewhere else. They are all waiting to move to a bigger paper in a bigger city on the way up to starting the trip all over again back down in the small towns as assistant editor.

What's worse, the gypsies who staff those papers are hired by people who are answerable to the likes of "Pinch" Sulzberger of the NY Times or whoever it is in McLean, Va. that's running Gannett these days. This guarantees that the Hendersonville (N.C.) Times (owned by the NY Times) no more reflects the people of Hendersonville, N.C. than does the New York Times itself.

But those Times are ending. Just as Enron collapsed due to fraud committed by the crooks who ran it, the newspaper industry is dying because of the dishonesty of its management in peddling propaganda.

Annual double digit declines in circulation. Editorships an ever-shrinking game of musical chairs. Gannett has just announced another layoff in the hundreds, is about to close the Tucson Citizen and perhaps the Detroit Free Press, and is requiring its remaining employees to take a week off without pay. Stock prices are doing dives worthy of Enron, although over a longer term: NY Times is down 66% since Jan. '08; 88% since the beginning of '04. Gannett is down over 80% since January '08; 92.5% since January '04.

I grew up in a family where no day was ever complete without the New York Times. But after its betrayal of the readers' trust in the last thirty years, the decline of that empire is a pleasure to observe. The company has to sell most of its headquarters building to raise operating funds; the purchase of the Boston Globe has exposed publisher Pinch Sulzberger as a fool; the Jayson Blair fiasco and the recent publication of a fake letter to the editor from the "Mayor of Paris" reveal that the people that Sulzberger has installed should be demoted back to reporting for their high school papers.

And now has come the utter humiliation of having to beg for a quarter billion in life-support dollars from that corrupt oppressor of the Mexican worker, Carlos Slim.

Considering how skimpy the paper has become in the desperate effort to save money, it's now appropriate in more ways than one to call it the Slim Times.

I've been a volunteer in the cause of secure borders and immigration reform for seven years. So I have been both witness to and victim of the appalling lies the newspaper moguls have routinely inflicted on the public.

Case in point: a "news" article from the May 24, 2008 edition of the Asbury Park Press of a rally in Lakewood, NJ by citizens supporting local enforcement of immigration law (commonly known as "287g authority").

The rally was organized by local resident Diane Reaves. Among the speakers were two Hispanics including well-known activist Carmen Morales; Ed Kowalski, whose 17 year old niece was stalked, raped and murdered by an illegal alien; and myself, father of a young man killed on 9/11 by aliens admitted through the criminal negligence of State Department officials.

All of the speakers were either immigrants themselves, or were the children or grandchildren of legal immigrants to the US. We all emphasized that in our statements. Nevertheless, the Asbury Park Press headlined its coverage: "Anti-immigrant rally in Lakewood." [Anti-immigrant rally in Lakewood draws about 70, by Zach Patberg]

As anyone with experience in this area knows, "anti-immigrant" is the standard claim made by open border and illegal alien supporters against anyone who even suggests that immigration law be enforced. Do you dare mention violent gangs prevalent among illegals? You are "anti-immigrant." Want to make sure that people coming to the USA are not a threat to our security? You are "anti-immigrant." Want to require foreign visitors to have a visa to enter the USA? You are "anti-immigrant." Lost your job to an illegal, been the victim of a crime by an alien and you dare to complain? You are anti-immigrant.

The title of the article was the least of the Asbury P-P's distortions. Disrupting the rally was one Jared Schultz, from Trenton, NJ and his gang. Mr. Schultz does not believe in allowing people to speak if they disagree with him. His method of suppressing our speech was to utilize electronic amplification turned up to very high volume, scream "fascist," "racist," and create electronic screeches so rally attendees could not hear us.(Jared Schultz is a member of Anti-racist Action  of  Trenton. [Send them mail] He and three others are in legal trouble over an incident in which it is alleged that they thought they were attacking neo-Nazis, but were actually attacking undercover police officers. )

We could not utter a single word without their electronic interference. One of their oft-repeated chants addressed to Mrs. Reaves ended with the threat: "we know where you sleep at night". The force of this threat was made more real by the fact most Mr. Schultz's gang was wearing masks.

But the article in the Asbury Park Press described that mob as a group of "hecklers". It did not mention the word "mask," did not mention the threat to Mrs. Reaves, did not even mention the successful electronically-amplified interference other than to mention that Schultz had a "bullhorn."

In response to the charges of "fascism" by Shultz, I made sure in my statement as to note that my own family had been refugees from the Nazis. My father was Jewish and that my Protestant mother had defied the Nazis, leaving Germany literally 24 hours before the Gestapo came to arrest her. I made a point of speaking to the Park-Press's reporter to emphasize those facts—as did Mrs. Morales and Mr. Kowalski about their own reasons for favoring enforcement of the law.

None of this was deemed worthy of being mentioned by Zach Patberg, [Email him] the reporter for the Gannett Corporation's Asbury Park Press. What was included was a claim by Schultz that "he was approached by at least one member of a neo-Nazi group."

After the event I tried to reach the editor of the paper, Hollis Towns, [Send him mail] but as newspapers so often say: "He did not return repeated phone calls."

This then, is what Gannett and its corporate colleagues have tried to sell as "journalism." No less than Enron, the management at the NY Times Co., Hearst, Gannett, et al. have engaged in fraud. It took a while, but the American public caught on. As a result, these companies are, it is to be hoped, headed for the same fate as Enron.

I rejoice in the industry's fate.

Postscript: In the Gannett Blog, run by a laid off Gannett employee, an anonymous source, speaking of the December round of Gannett layoffs, reported that the art department at the Asbury Park-Press had been "decimated" and eleven people had been laid off from the news room. [Tally hits 863 as Gannett's mass layoff spreads]

Certainly, the quality of journalism in the U.S. will be noticeably improved if among those laid off are the reporter and editor referred to here.

And imagine the improvement after publications like this entirely disappear.

Peter Gadiel (email him) is president of 9/11 Families for a Secure America. His son, 9/11 World Trade Center victim James Gadiel (North Tower, 103rd floor), was 23 at the time of his murder.