Were there any reporters working yesterday?
With no coverage of a local protest march against the president’s immigration policy, today’s “news” section tests the bottom on news coverage established just last Sunday. This Sunday’s edition of the Wheeling News-Register has only six pages of news vs. last week’s which had eight. With the possible exception of Joselyn King’s story on the death of local theatre legend Hal O’Leary, there is no evidence that any reporter worked yesterday. For example, while the paper did publish the first half of an Associated Press report on the nationwide protest against President Trump’s immigration policy, there is no mention of the local march sponsored by M.O.V.E. which attracted many area residents. (Last night, local TV station WTRF covered the local protest march as their top story: see here.)
There are just eleven stories in the entire “news” section including three local PR releases and just three Associated Press stories. Among the other stories, was this one from Mark Maroney which begins:
About 450 National Guard troops from northcentral Pennsylvania will spend a year in Poland next spring, a means of countering any Russian aggression in the Baltic states.
It’s not an AP story and you might wonder, as I did, what an article about northcentral Pennsylvania Guardsmen going to Poland is doing in a Wheeling, West Virginia newspaper? The report clearly has no relevance for Ohio Valley residents – the story is three days old and it first appeared in the Williamsport (PA) Sun-Gazette. It’s presence in a Wheeling paper is probably explained by what economists call “economies of scale” (I call it “news on the cheap”) – the Sun-Gazette is another Ogden newspaper and it’s simply much cheaper for the News-Register to run this already written story rather than paying a local reporter to cover local news. After all, as we learn every Sunday, relevance and timeliness are overrated.
Full disclosure – how about no disclosure?
This problem appears to be getting worse. As I’ve noted in previous posts, Ogden Newspapers simply ignore the ethical standard followed by many other papers to alert readers of possible reporter and newspaper conflicts of interest. This year, for example, we’ve had editorials and news articles calling for a tax that would make our local papers’ owner’s baseball team richer as well as articles pushing an Ogden-owned resort. In neither case was a financial conflict noted.
This one is a little different. Today, the longest article (by far) in today’s paper is
RISE West Virginia: Analyzing the Botched Flood Relief Effort
by Steven Allen Adams.
Adams details how the program ran into problems. I don’t want to argue with his reporting, my problem is with the paper not telling us that up until a week ago, Adams was working for the Secretary of State in Governor Justice's administration. He’s not just a reporter; he’s a reporter who’s reporting on his former boss. Why not disclose his background and let the reader decide on his objectivity?