Monday, January 18, 2010
MORRIS COMMUNICATIONS' Federal Bankruptcy Case Provides Opportunity for Community Activists to Raise Concerns About St. Augustine WrecKord's Biases
We don't need any more "Untouchables" whom local newspapers won't cover out of fear or greed here in St. Augustine, Florida.
See Jacksonville Times-Union news story below on MORRIS COMMUNICATIONS' bankruptcy filing.
What is to be done, when, in the course of human events, a "newspaper":
1. Refuses to cover local government misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, waste, fraud, abuse and corruption?
2. Refuses to cover pollution problems that may be making people sick?
3. Refuses to provide gavel-to=gavel coverage of government meetings?
4. Refuses to provide balanced coverage of First Amendment issues, including artist arrests?
5. Refuses to print news about racism in our government?
6. Refuses to print news about environmental issues involving our government, good or bad;
7. Talks down to its readers?
8. Serves only the interests of advertisers, whether developers or government legal ads?
9. Toadies to the likes of WILLIAM B. HARRISS, City Manager of St. Augustine?
10. Won't report the St. Augustine City government's embarrassing moments (like discussing the nomination of a long-dead scholar to the federal advisory committee on St. Augustine's 450th anniversary)?
11. Won't report the latest federal felony criminal conviction of THOMAS E. COGHILL, JR., who was convicted of running several St. Augustine development corporations from federal custody?
12. Won't report on E. coli problems in our rivers, despite data shared by Judith Seraphin with WrecKord reporters?
13. Won't report on two local KKK-style hate websites run by SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR's 2004 campaign manager, MICHAEL GOLD, or report more than $606,000 in n0-bid contracts for his uniform company?
14. Won't report on coercion, intimidation and harassment of citizens by threats of SLAPP suits?
15. Won't report on mistreatment of citizen activists speaking at public meetings?
16. Seldom reports on what citizen activists say at public meetings?
17. Often refuses to correct errors of omission and commission?
18. Sends bored, uninformed, unenthusiastic reporters who langiuidly "cover" meetings without interest, yawning, taking few notes, and fawning over public officials?
19. Refuses to cover government scandals (while the parent company, Morris Communications wasted oodles of cash on a bogus antitrust against the PGA Tour for not sharing information useful primarily to gamblers -- "real time golf scores" within some 15-30 minutes of a golf hole ending)?
20. Refuses to file Sunshine or Open Records lawsuits, the way other newspapers from Knoxville to Honolulu do, to bring us the news without fear or favor?
21. Refuses to apologize for its blatant bigotry during the 1960s, beneth the standard of care set by the Lexington, Kentucky Herald-Leader.
22. Refuses to cover the neutron bomb effect of developers' eyesore uncompleted projects, such as the San Sebastian Inner Harbor.
23. Refuses to cover other-directed politicians who do whatever developers want.
24. Lavishes fawning coverage and editorial on every dippy or dipsomaniac right-wingnut Repug, whether Congressman JOHN LUIGI MICA, tatterdemalion RANDY BRUNSON, unqualifed BEN ADAMS, developer pawn JAMES BRYANT, developer pawn KAREN STERN, developer pawn MARC JACALONE, or others of their icky ilk.
25. Lavishes fawning coverage on the likes of bigot RANDALL TERRY, convicted terrorist, whose homophobic hate rally outside Jacksonville's federal court in 2003 got page one publicity, with a cutline claiming 100 people attended, when the Record's sister paper (Jacksonville Times-Union) showed a motley crew of twelve (half captive children of bigoted adults).
I reckon there are several alternatives:
C. File complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
D. File an amicus curiae brief with the Bankruptcy Court when Morris Communications files its petition tomorrow.
It is not just a breach of duty to readers in a democracy to coverup the news.
It is not just a betrayal of the First Amendment and journalistic prnciples.
It may also be a breach of the duty owed to bondholders, shareholders and creditors for a "newspaper" to slant the news and refuse to cover government and business thoroughly.
But for the massive increase in the population of St. Johns County in the last ten years, the WrecKord would have suffered a decrease in sales.
With expanded and strengthened and revived news coverage, our democracy will be strengthened and Morris Communications will emerge from bankruptcy unscathed, stronger than ever.
Without expanded, and strengthened and revived news coverage, our democracy will be stunted and the St. Augustine Record may go the way of the dinosaurs.
St. Augustine Record bondholders: please weigh in on these issues. You want to be paid. We want news. You won't be paid in full so long as the St. Augustine Record has a lengthy list of sacred cows (starting with City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS).
We don't need any "untouchables" in journalism in Our Town.
These principles are, in the words of the Founders, "self-evident."
What do you reckon?