Sunday :: Oct 18, 2009

This Is Journalism?


by Steve

Sacramento Bee front-page photo of an important news story

Many of us have seen first hand the degradation of journalism in our communities, when we see what has happened to our hometown newspapers. In my hometown, we were blessed by having two papers, the conservative but mostly solid Sacramento Union, and the larger Sacramento Bee. The Bee, of course, was the flagship paper for the McClatchy news chain, and had some of the best investigative reporters around back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, as well as the some of the best capitol coverage in the state.

With the Union’s demise years ago, those days are long gone. After a series of ill-fated acquisitions whereby McClatchy and Knight-Ridder merged, creating a journalistically rich but fiscally suspect enterprise, my hometown newspaper is a shell of its old self under the current editorial regime. A couple of weeks ago, I did a post on how the Bee made a big deal over the 2016 Olympic decision, using a right wing slant to an irrelevant story. Another case in point came today.

In the Sunday edition of the Bee, the editors devoted much of the front page and the entire back page of the front section to this critical issue: how tribal casinos are angling to keep frequent gamblers.

I wish I was kidding, but unfortunately, I am not. The Bee devoted 140 column inches today in its front and back pages of the front section to a story and several pictures on the freebies that these casinos are offering to keep people coming back and gambling their disposable income away.

There is nary a word about the moral and societal implications of this, but the Bee does provide for you online a handy map of where you can find these casinos, and a nice summary of all you can get from these casinos for being a regular gambler.

You will be forgiven for thinking that this isn't journalism, but rather the willing conversion of a major newspaper into a PR extension of the gambling industry. The casinos themselves could not buy better promotional materials, and why should they? The Bee is doing it for them, probably in exchange for the banner ad at the bottom of the first page of the Sports section today from one of the casinos mentioned in the story, and the half-page ad from another in the “Living Here Sunday” section of the paper today.

This came in the same Sunday edition where the Bee gave six entire pages of its 20-page front section to two firms who buy gold, jewelry, currency, and coins.

Apparently, after whoring themselves like this, there wasn’t room up front in the main section of today’s paper for an important health care reform-related story, because the Bee could only dedicate 24 column inches today to President Obama’s calling out of the insurance industry for its deceptive ads – buried back on Page A13.

And we wonder why so many Americans are misinformed on this issue.

Steve :: 10:49 AM :: Comments (2) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!