Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Breitbart/Fox contributor found on Opinion page of The London Free Press

Before getting into this post, I'd like to say that I am a retired newspaper staff photographer. I've had connections to newspapers since I was boy. I love newspapers. And many of the seniors with whom I associate are also newspaper junkies. But, and this is the sad part, The London Free Press as operated by Sun Media, and now by Post Media, has broken some of these people's life-long attachments to a daily paper.

They say the paper is too thin. It doesn't have enough local news. These at-one-time-readers are not interested in what happens in Windsor or in other cities with a Post Media paper. And they feel The London Free Press has veered too far to the right. These seniors miss what isn't there and are often offended by what is.

The opinion piece at the core of this post is an example of what is chasing the folk I know away from the paper. And the sad thing is the folk running the paper don't appear to care. The opinion piece contained phrases that to folks who follow this stuff, and my friends do, say beware of  the hidden right wing agenda.

It is one thing for the local paper to carry a cost-saving right-wing insert. But when the paper itself has its opinion page contaminated with cheap, head-office bumpf, then readers stop reading The London Free Press. All too sad.

Now, on to my post.

It's tough being a journalist at a small, daily newspaper today. The staff is thin and threatens to get even thinner. The worries concerning job security and even worries about the future of the paper itself are palpable. No one wants to join the ranks of the unemployed. Everyone does their job, no one criticizes and all keep quiet. If I still worked at The London Free Press, even mouthy me might find myself self-muzzling.

With that confession out of the way, I'd like to believe I'd be in Joe Ruscitti's office right now telling him that Peter Morici does not belong on the paper's Opinion page. Ruscitti is the editor in chief at the local paper. Peter Morici is the type of columnist who repels my senior friends.

Recently, the newspaper called for a boycott of L. L. Bean. Why? Because, according to the local journalist behind the call, Morris Dalla Costa, it doesn't support anyone who supports the policies of Donald Trump. I thought a boycott was an action demanding a fair amount of thought and deliberation and not just a quick tweet. He assured me that it was "not a difficult concept." (I say the newspaper called for the boycott because the Twitter username attached to the tweet ended with ...atLFPress. If the paper is going to allow their name to be part of a username, the paper must take some responsibility for the tweet.)

Peter Morici is a vocal supporter of many of Donald Trump's positions. He was identified in the paper as "an economist and business professor at the University of Maryland." All true. But he is also a contributor to Breitbart News and Fox News. This important background  information was not forthcoming.

Should Morici's opinion be in my local paper? Certainly, but not on the local Opinion page. It should be in the Post Media section. And Morici should be clearly identified as also appearing in Breitbart News. Steve Bannon, said to be the strategist behind Trump's travel ban, was the former head of Breitbart News. It should also be mentioned that Morici is a frequent on-air contributor to Fox News. Need I say more?

Now, will Morris Dalla Costa be so bold as to tweet out a call to boycott The London Free Press? I doubt it. And yet, by Dalla Costa's logic, he should be calling out the paper, his employer. As he said, it's "not a difficult concept."

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