Let’s look at the way the print media reacted to Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis after their first six months as pontiff.
We looked at the editorials in 15 of the nation’s largest newspapers to see what they said about the current pope, and his predecessor, after their first six months in office (Pope Francis will celebrate his first six months on September 13).
One thing the press can't stand is criticism. And sometimes the reaction of members of the press to criticism goes so over the top that the results are absolutely hilarious. Such was the case of Marci Shatzman, a reporter for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel Forum Publishing Group who was covering a routine meeting of the West Boca Community Council in Florida. What set Marci off to act completely unprofessional at the 43 second mark of this video was guest speaker Andre Fladell daring to criticize members of the press for acting...unprofessional.
It's time once again to play America's favorite political game...Name That Party!
This time the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel really had me stumped. It was their story about a former Broward (county) Teachers Union president who was arrested for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in union funds. What kept me scratching my head was that the Sun-Sentinel reporters wrote that some of the funds went to political campaigns but made no mention of the political party of the recipients. Here is the lead of the story that offered no real clues as to the political party:
Oops! I mean the sea is rising! The sea is rising!
Such is the premise, chock full of laughable hysteria mixed in with premonitions of massive governmental spending based on a theory yet to be proven, in this Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel front page story by David Fleshler. As Chicken Little Fleshler describes, the plan to combat an unproven problem isn't just any plan, it's a BATTLE plan:
What happens when a mainstream newspaper gets too cozy with local politicians? In the case of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel they often have to play catchup with the free alternative weekly, the Broward Palm Beach New Times, when it comes to exposing the foibles of those same politicians such as happened when the New Times' Bob Norman led the way with his stories about Broward School Board corruption to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. And once again Bob Norman is leading the way (although he sometimes goes off the deep end when discussing national politics) in his New Times Daily Pulp blog with a special series of articles exposing the amazing activities of Broward County Democrat Chairman, Mitch Ceasar, including allegations of corruption, vote tamperiing, and "wandering fingers." I'm sure you want to start off with the incredibly juicy details of the latter so check these claims in Norman's story made by Donna Greenburg, former executive director of the Broward Democrats:
"He's very predictable," Greenberg, who was married, says of her former boss. "He would walk over, shut the blinds in his office, and close the door. Then he would come over, say 'You look tense,' and massage my neck. It was so weird. I was freaking out. I was like, 'What do I do?'"
It only got worse the one time that party business caused her to have to go to Ceasar's house in Plantation. She was there to collect photographs that were to be posted on the Broward Democratic Executive Committee website.
"He totally came onto me and tried to get me in bed," she said.
You might as well play the theme music of Love Is A Many Splendored Thing while reading this Michael Mayo column in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel about Florida Governor Charlie Crist. With the senate campaign of apparent Democrat nominee Kendrick Meek seemingly dead in the water before it even really begins, Crist has now become the favorite of liberals whose main goal is to prevent conservative Marco Rubio from becoming senator from the Sunshine State.
Even though Mayo spent time cozying up to Crist, not a single penetrating question from him. Not even the obvious ones like why he lied on national television when he swore that he would NOT run as an independent as well as breaking his promise to return Republican campaign contributions when he made the switch. Mayo oozes unskeptical affection for Crist while in his presence with nary an uncomfortable inquiry:
I've got a new nickname for Charlie Crist — Governor Gamble — although I didn't share it with him when he gave me a lift the other day.
"Hop in," Crist said, waving me and a colleague into a Black Chevy Tahoe on his way to a bill-signing ceremony in Fort Lauderdale. "You [the taxpayers] pay for it. You might as well use it."
This was Crist at his affable best. Likability is what he's banking on to capture a U.S. Senate seat as an independent after his bold break from the Republican Party.
Okay boys and girls. It's time again to play that favorite NewsBusters game...Name That Party!
Today's game is a real challenge. The politician in question was a Broward County Commissioner sentenced to prison for money laundering. Hmmm... Broward County? Could the clue as to the party label be found from that fact? Nope. Too tough. The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel does us no favors by completely avoiding political labels in its story about former Broward County Comissioner Josephus Eggelletion on his way to prison:
Former Broward Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion turned himself in around 2 p.m. Friday and began serving his 2-1/2-year federal prison sentence, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons.
Eggelletion, 61, of Lauderdale Lakes, checked in at the Federal Correctional Institution in Jesup, Ga., 100 miles from Jacksonville.
Whenever a liberal columnist gives some "friendly" advice to a Republican who is running for public office, you can be sure that he almost always has an ulterior motive. Such was the case with columnist Michael Mayo of the ailing Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Not only did Mayo urge Charlie Crist to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent, he also cynically advised Crist to open himself up for bribery ala Ben Nelson should this year's elections result in a deadlock between Republicans and Democrats:
Democrats now have a 57-41 edge over Republicans in the Senate, and there are two independents who align with the Democrats, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
With 36 Senate seats up for grabs in November, Democrats and Republicans could end up virtually deadlocked for the majority.
Could you imagine if there was a 49-48 split and Crist were one of three independents?
Anything Florida wanted, Florida would get.
How about this idea: Our junior senator could broker a deal where all Florida homeowners get affordable windstorm coverage through national catastrophe insurance. In exchange, we allow expanded oil drilling off Florida's shores.
I say go for it, Independent Charlie.
For Floridians, it could have a nice ring — and ka-ching — to it.
There is currently a huge corruption scandal involving public officials in Broward County Florida that is being investigated by the FBI. The local Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel newspaper, which has been dragging its feet until recently on reporting this scandal, has finally gotten around to criticizing someone involved in the scandal investigation...the informant who helped break the case. I kid you not.
First let us look at the background on the Sun-Sentinel's reluctance to do what it is supposed to do, namely investigating local corruption. The reporter who has actually been writing about the breaking scandals in depth for weeks doesn't even work for the Sun-Sentinel. He is Bob Norman of the Broward Palm Beach New Times free newspaper who describes the Sun-Sentinel foot-dragging in his Daily Pulp blog:
One of the great joys of watching the greatest corruption story in Broward County history begin to unfold during this past month has been watching the Sun-Sentinel play catch-up.
...The Sentinel, you have to understand, is what I call an "official" newspaper. In general, it listens to local bigwigs and does what it's told, paying short shrift to those who would challenge those same officials. Yes, it's the exact opposite of what a good newspaper is supposed to do, but it paid the bills for years and years.
Okay ladies and gentlemen, it's time to once again play America's favorite political parlor game---Name That Party! And today we have a special two-part episode: Broward County and Jersey City. First up Broward County but I warn you, it won't be easy to figure out the political party to which the protagonists belong. The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel has certainly played along in keeping the party label under wraps as you can see in this story:
School Board member Beverly Gallagher, County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion and former Miramar City Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman were arrested and charged in a public corruption probe Wednesday.
Your humble correspondent has frequently pointed out how incredibly dull his hometown newspaper, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, has become. Well, it appears that the online Sun-Sentinel is now desperately trying to counteract its dull and stuffy image by going overboard in publishing cheesecake photos. Specifically cheesecake photos of Hollywood actress Megan Fox. In the current Sun-Sentinel edition, Megan Fox photos are featured not just once, but twice on the front page. Just click on the picture links of Megan Fox on the front page and you are presented with a grand total of 72 photos of the heavily tattooed actress.
The first Megan Fox photo link is titled, Beauty Fades? Megan Fox's worst pictures. Click on the cheesecake link and it leads to a Megan Fox photo gallery with this penetrating commentary by Elizabeth Snead:
My first piece of advice to any editor who wishes to reassure his newspaper readers that things are going to improve at his newspaper is to not accompany such an article with the grim visage of a mortician as you can see in this photo of Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel editor, Earl Maucker. It doesn't exactly inspire confidence in his newspaper. And the words of Maucker, while trying to sound upbeat, are at odds with the reality of a newspaper which has shrunk to a shell of it's former self. Typically the the front section of the Sun-Sentinel weekday newspaper is now only about a dozen pages.
However, Maucker, in response to a reader's question about the Sun-Sentinel's future, performs a rather unconvincing job of reassuring his readers that we will not soon be witnessing yet another newspaper funeral:
Kathleen Parker, a "conservative" columnist who has discovered that slamming real conservatives was an easy way to lift herself from her earlier state of relative anonymity, has now turned herself into an inadvertent comedienne. I mean, how can you beat this comedy line on the title of her latest column appearing in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel: "Is Meghan McCain the GOP's answer to Rush Limbaugh?" Yes, Parker is seriously proposing that "Valley Girl McCain" can save the Republicans from that "nasty" Rush Limbaugh:
The GOP's identity crisis just got more interesting with the recent media splash of Meghan McCain, eldest daughter of the senator who did not become president.
Young McCain, who began blogging during her father's presidential campaign, recently made waves at The Daily Beast when she picked a fight with conservative media mavens Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham. This is enough sport to make the little dog laugh, to say nothing of the dish and the spoon.
McCain, just 24, is one smart cookie. In a matter of weeks, she has created a brand, presenting herself as a fresh face of her daddy's party and a voice for young conservatives. Strategically speaking, what better way to launch herself than to challenge the reigning diva herself, Miz Coulter?
This is a soap opera that is currently being played out in similar form at many newspapers around the country as they face imminent collapse. In this case, the melodrama is being played out at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel but it could be happening at any of a number of newspapers. The departure of an employee, one Pat Thompson who was the Deputy Managing Editor, along with a reshuffling of the personnel. This announcement, which was published in Bob Norman's The Pulp of the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, was described by him as "a heavily bureaucratic reshuffling of the deck chairs." What is really fascinating about this blog post is the comments section in which many of the current and former Sun-Sentinel employees voice their frustrations, anger, accusations, and defensiveness. The curtains of the Sun-Sentinel Soap Opera Theater now opens with this comment by "journalista":
I love it when "upper management" shakes up a newsroom or office by moving around people and then totally changing the titles to really goofy words they think sound "modern" or are filled with "changeability." Let me guess, I'd say that it took a handful of SS geniuses maybe two weeks to agree on these titles. No wonder the newspaper business model is crumbling before our very eyes.
Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health One of the big pet peeves of your humble correspondent is when tobacco lawsuit plaintiffs declare that the hazards of smoking cigarettes were kept secret by the tobacco companies and, as a result, they continued smoking thinking that it was safe to do so. Yeah, some "secret" when each and every pack of cigarettes has had the Surgeon General's warning printed on them for over 40 years. My own mother was a regular smoker until that day back in the 60s when the Surgeon General declared smoking to be hazardous to your health. And on that day my mother quit smoking...cold turkey. And yet we continue to have smokers suing the tobacco companies because they claim that they just weren't informed that it could cause cancer and other diseases. Even worse, the newspapers such as the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel report on such lawsuits without ever mentioning that smoking hazard warnings are all over the place including right on each cigarette pack and in anti-smoking PSA commercials such as you can see in this video (warning: very intense viewing).
Someone really needs to inform Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel editor Earl Maucker that newspapers nowadays are in the business of delivering information, not just print. We just saw an excellent example of why print needs to be supplemented by video, especially if the latter is necessary to convey the feeling of the event covered. This was illustrated by the incredibly lame coverage the Sun-Sentinel gave to a very intense pro-Hamas demonstration on Tuesday in downtown Fort Lauderdale. As a resident of this area, such demonstrations seem to be rather disconcerting since this seems to be something that usually happens in other parts of the world, not in this normally peaceable burg. Check out this video made by Tom Trento and judge for yourself if this demonstration warranted this rather laid back Sun-Sentinel coverage as written by Scott Wyman:
Hmm... Since your humble correspondent was the first to coin the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel Dueling Columnists with the highly accurate monicker of "Dulling Columnists," perhaps I would be justified in charging a royalty payment from Daily Pulp writer, John de Groot, for titling his recent column, "Dulling Columnists Score Major Snore." Here is what I wrote about the Dulling Columnists, Stephen Goldstein and Kingsley Guy, on the Ides of March:
How embarrassing is it for a newspaper to have a member of a presidential ticket campaigning in its own backyard and to completely miss something he said that has reverberated all over the Web? Such was the case on Tuesday when vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden was campaigning in Deerfield Beach. Amid all the standard Democrat talking points presented by Biden, there was this shocker made in response to a questioner with obvious BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) asking about pursuing the Bush administration with criminal investigations:
If there has been a basis upon which you can pursue someone for a criminal violation, they will be pursued. Not out of vengeance, not out of retribution, out of the need to preserve the notion that no one, no one, no attorney general, no president -- no one is above the law.
If you are wondering why the stories in your local newspapers are starting to look so similar to other newspapers, it might be because they are following the new business model of South Florida newspapers: eliminating competition. All the major South Florida newspapers, Miami Herald, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel (now called SunSentinel), and Palm Beach Post have had big staff cutbacks recently. So who is left to cover the news? The skeleton crews still working at the newspapers don't have the capability so they came up with a solution: pool their resources and share their stories. A story in Friday's Sun-Sentinel, I mean SunSentinel, explains the brave new world of journalism (emphasis mine):
The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel yesterday bid farewell to their managing editor, Sharon Rosenhause, along with the very position of managing editor itself. One can only hope that the Sun-Sentinel will also abolish the unofficial post of "diversity queen" by which Rosenhause was also known. Many newspapers have a "diversity queen" which almost always means diversity of ethnicity or gender but not diverse opinions. Although Gregory Lewis in his Sun-Sentinel blog enthusiastically gushed that the departing Rosenhause was "the Queen of Newspaper Diversity," the comments on Bob Norman's Broward-Palm Beach New Times Daily Pulp reveal a rather bleak opinion about her and "diversity." An example is this comment from John de Groot:
Pity she wasn't a "champion" for talented journalists capable of knowing the difference between what is interesting and what is not.
And this from "Amy" who apparently had a sad run-in with the diversity queen:
In yet another in the series of "guess the missing party label" we once again present the case of imprisoned former Broward County (Fla.) sheriff Ken Jenne. As we have seen before, the South Florida news media is extremely reluctant to apply a party label to the disgraced Jenne, who was convicted of mail fraud and tax evasion while in office, despite the fact that the Broward sheriff office is most most important political post in the county. A hint as to what is Jenne's political label is the fact that if he had been a Republican, we would have seen that fact in almost every news story about him.
Let us now watch the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reporter, Vanessa Blum, give us a somewhat tender account of inmate No. 77434-004:
When I last reported on the hilarious musings of the Tribune Company's new chief innovation officer, Lee Abrams, little did I realize that he would provide us with a continuous comedy act of major proportions. His previous observations wandered from looking upon newspapers as the "new rock 'n' roll" to the need for soul all interspersed with quotations from everybody from John Cleese to Carl Jung. Yes, he was good for some bellylaughs but now he has exceeded himself in the inadvertent humor department with a memo to the Tribune staffers that rivals the best of comedy skits. Appropriately, Abrams announces that his job starts on April Fools Day:
...I start April 1st but I've been pretty engaged from afar. Thought I'd share some observations on TV, web and print. Small stuff, "think pieces" more than anything...not end alls, but when we re-think and maximize hundreds of little pieces within the framework of bigger pieces and it could be part of the blueprint for something very powerful:
Imagine if a comedy script is submitted to a movie producer. It would be about a major newspaper conglomerate so desperate to turn around the plunging circulation numbers of its various newspapers that it hires a wacky radio consultant as a Chief Innovation Officer to help turn it around. The radio consultant is so strange that he believes the way to improve the circulation numbers is to ensure that the newspapers have soul. He plans to do this by treating newspapers as the new rock 'n' roll. The wacky Chief Innovation Officer announces his plans in a seemingly endless e-mail message that wanders aimlessly for 5 web pages in which it claims that newspapers need to "morph the soul of Dylan...with with the innovation of Apple and the eccentric-all-the-way-to-the-bank of Bill Veeck." The message also conjures up "theater of the mind," Star Wars, plus a whole host of nearly indecipherable psycho-babble that includes visions of open and closed modes.
In yet another example of how the dinosaur media is completely unable to cope with the new web technology, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel's editorial blog (or "blob" as editor Earl Maucker described it accurately last summer via a typo), The Slant, continues to generate almost no interest from the readers. Out of 21 entries posted to The Slant from January 16 through February 28, only three comments were left by readers. Something of an underwhelming response. Of course, it might have helped if the Sun-Sentinel actually provided a direct link to The Slant "Blob" from its opening page. Here is how the Sun-Sentinel describes The Slant which was launched last year with much hype:
In what seems to be an almost comical pattern among South Florida newspapers, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel has once again failed to apply the political party label to disgraced and imprisoned former Broward county sheriff Ken Jenne. Can you guess the political party to which Jenne belongs?
With many newspapers in a state of free-fall as far as their readership numbers go, it is interesting as well as entertaining to watch how they attempt to combat that situation. In the case of some such as my hometown newspaper, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, the effort to adjust to the new realities of the Web is both awkward as well as laughable. As I pointed out in an earlier NewsBusters blog, the Sun-Sentinel came up with the idea of a "blob" called "The Slant." Here is a description of this "exciting" new feature by editor Earl Maucker:
To take advantage of the web capabilities, our editorial page editors created "The Slant", a blob [sic] devoted to opinion and commentary that goes well beyond what we offer on our printed editorial and commentary pages.
This has been happening so much in the past few years that it is reaching the point of redundancy to report on it. A politician is caught up in a major scandal and/or corruption. The media dutifully reports on it but leaves out one key factor. The political party of the fallen politician. And can you guess which political party is ALWAYS missing from these reports whenever such an affliliation is conveniently purged from the news stories?