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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Local Media - 2009 Year In Review

The following is a list of (independent) observations made on local stories and editorials that I believed were designed to intentionally shape and direct public opinion towards the socio-political stance held by the local media monopoly, the Janesville Gazette and their affiliates.

* January -- Self-investigation by city of potential internal scandal good enough for government watchdog.

* January -- Gazette does its part to foist junior hockey team onto taxpayers.

* January -- Newspaper Stifles Sustainability Opinion On The Web.

* January -- Newspaper De-Emphasized City Council Endorsement Of Political Group.

* January -- Newspaper features Wal-Mart in buy "local" campaign.

* January -- What is the Gazette's editorial position on same-sex marriage?

And that's just January!! So I thought, why bother with the rest of the year? It only gets more painfully redundant. Instead I've decided to finish this post off with what I consider to be the three most under-reported local news events of the year.

Coming in at number three was the newspaper's jokingly lightweight response to blunt statements made by one of their own affiliates, talk radio host Stan Milam, towards the Janesville City Council. Milam repeatedly attempted to intimidate members by warning them of the dire consequences they should expect if any vote against the newspaper's "council meeting time change" request. Had anyone outside of the Gazette loop made those threatening comments against local officials, the newspaper would have made it the dirt of the town and would have demanded a public explanation, apology or complete retraction. With Stan Milam, they did not.

Number Two -- When the Janesville city council endorsed the ideologically driven legislative agenda of the politically active private business group "Forward Janesville," the full Gazette report on this massive special interest breach into non-partisan local government amounted to an incomplete sentence. Again, had the city council endorsed the legislative agenda of WEAC or any one of the local labor unions, there would have been hell to pay. This obvious double-standard by the laughably self-described "government watchdog" exposed the newspaper for what it really is - a right-wing lapdog and partisan tool.

Simply for the public endangerment aspect, the number one under-reported local event for 2009 in my book was the newspaper's lack of initiative and absence of any investigative reporting surrounding the intent and possible deception in public statements by the director of Janesville's water utility about the city's inability to deliver safe water to 20,000 residents. The Gazette's follow-up articles regarding the city administration's presentational farce were extremely weak and protectionist in tone. The newspaper's "exclusives" on this matter amounted to little more than simple question and answer regurgitation.

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