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Monday, July 06, 2009

Newspaper Running Amok - Selling Out Op-Ed Pages

Friday’s July 3rd edition (a July 4th edition was not published) of the Janesville Gazette contained a full page religio-political ad titled "In God We Trust" on what normally is the second page of the newspaper's Op-Ed section.

The ad was basically a compilation of cherry-picked quotes from our country's founding fathers, Presidents, Supreme Court rulings and a few lesser known people. The ad had a stars and stripes background and was presented as someone's unequivocal proof of our country's perceived ties with Divine Providence and Christianity. At the bottom of the ad was full disclosure of its origin. It came from Hobby Lobby Ministry Projects.

Just for the sake of perspective here, the newspaper's primary op-ed page carried the "Declaration of Independence" under a sub-title referring to the document as a "timeless call to action." Apparently, with a democratic majority, the list of greivances is running high and fast once again. Next to that was an op-ed column by Wisconsin State Rep. Mike Sheridan describing his work on the state budget. This was all packaged neatly together in tandem opposite of the Hobby Lobby Ministry page.

So, what could be the best time and place for a newspaper to displace their readers celebration of freedom, discourse and expression? On Independence Day of course! And with a bought message on their op-ed pages no less.

On the flip-side, if the Gazette wanted to accurately portray the public's broken trust and declining state of traditional media, they could not have done better than by selling out a full op-ed page to a private interest group with a socio-political message. Of course, the newspaper's intentions was not meant to hold any such deep meanings or lessons for their readers.

Just so there is no misunderstanding, my observation here has nothing to do with the religiosity behind the ad, the content or its disclosure. That's a whole 'nother debate. The Hobby Lobby message, just like any other paid message from a political party, religious group, Mosque or Synagogue, had no place residing on the op-ed page of a newspaper on any day. At least not in any self-respecting newspaper.

1 comment:

GG said...

I knew it was a ploy the moment I saw there were no coupons!!

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