Posts Tagged ‘Newark Advocate’

Got News?

July 17, 2015

Recently (June 2015) the Columbus Dispatch announced the finalization of its sale to New Media Investment group, a holding company. Gatehouse Media is now the publisher of the Dispatch. Gatehouse Media used to be Liberty Group Publishing (sounds pretty liberating, doesn’t it?) until it went belly up (bankrupt) and became (reorganized as) Gatehouse Media. Confused? You thought New Media Investment “bought” the Dispatch? Don’t be. They are all just entities existing only in contemplation of the law (SCOTUS definition of a corporation along with now being persons). Liberty Group, or Gatehouse sell stock to raise capital to run their operation to make a profit to pay a dividend to the stockholders who supplied them the capital through the purchase of the stock. In turn, New Media Investment is likewise an entity existing only in contemplation of the law. However, New Media (a holding company) operates by owning and manipulating the stock of other companies (and the companies themselves), thereby giving them ultimate say through either “holding” the majority shares of stock or all the shares outright (“wholly owned subsidiary”). Their day to day work (if one dares designate it as such) is buying up cheap or undervalued companies, restructuring companies (reorganizing, regrouping, downsizing, selling assets, etc.), as well as selling/trading the acquisition’s stock, etc. (money making money). Such New media Investment is now doing with the Dispatch through their anticipated move to a smaller building and eventual sale of the archive Dispatch location (an expendable asset). Leaner and meaner in the digital age though the Wolfe’s retained control of their broadcasting subsidiaries (acting in turn as a holding company with majority interest in WBNS, etc.). Gatehouse, however, will be printing the paper not only for the Dispatch but also for the Advocate, owned by Gannett Company, Inc. Confused again? Don’t be. The Wolfe family sale was the last major city, family owned paper to relinquish control and sell out to a corporate entity (Liberty, Gatehouse, New Media, etc. are all corporations while the Wolfe’s were, like Buffett or Pickens, majority stock holders in their own legally defined entities). It is the new now. Although Gatehouse, like Gannett, will have a digital presence online, it will focus on paper. In the paperless age, how is this possible? Scott Timberg, author of Culture Crash (2015), quotes from Robert Levine’s book, Free Ride – “According to statistics from the Newspaper Association of America, a print reader is worth an average of about $539 in advertising alone, while an average online reader is worth $26. The money saved on printing and distribution doesn’t come close to covering the difference.” Hence, Gannett owns the small town central Ohio papers, Gatehouse likewise does The Other Paper in Cols. as well as the local weeklies. What does that have to do with the news? Afterall, newspapers have always relied on advertising revenue, even when family owned. The difference lies not with where the money comes from, but where the money goes. Family owned, or employee owned for that matter, implicates integration in the very fabric of the locality, city or region that the business draws its customers as well as its employees. Profits earned in the community, directly or indirectly, return to the community. Gannett Company, Inc., which owns the Advocate, operates no different than New Media Investment Group. Ditto moving the Advocate newspaper operation to a smaller facility in anticipation of selling off its headquarters building downtown (after liquidating its printing operation – selling off assets). Advocate profits ultimately go to the Gannett corp and the shares bought and sold in the financial districts of Wall Street NYC. Profits earned in the community leave the community. Investment in the community consists primarily in lip service. The what, where, when, how and why of news now becomes solely a function of advertising priorities. Hence the lopsided Advocate focus on business news and sports. State, national and international matters follow Gannett’s USA Today “journalism of hope” – rewriting press releases, “reader’s digest” USA Today rehashes, and anything/everything favoring business, local or otherwise. This is evidenced by the almost total absence of any local writing in the Op Ed section where a stable of syndicated “columnists” provide the tennis game at center court. Ditto “letters to the editor.” One is led to believe that there is an absolute dearth of critical thinkers, writers or scholars within Newark on anything pertaining to the Newark community. Newark must be dumb. Woodward and Bernstein would be hard pressed to find employment with the Advocate for they totally relied on the backing and support of their editor and publisher. Shearer and Gannett are completely committed to advertising. Got news?

Take A Peek At The Right To Look Today

March 21, 2015

This week, Analysis would like to revisit the right to look, something not guaranteed by the US Constitution or Bill of Rights. Looking is the most natural and spontaneous activity of the human body (a vestigial defense response still genetically imprinted for human survival?). It is not considered a right within the US representative democracy. Please, check your spontaneity at the door! The online Newark Advocate shows an “Editorial; Better late than never for Buckeye Lake (3-21-15). After the Governor’s press conference re; that damn issue, the Advocate cites the projected cost of repair – $125-$150 million (given the Corps’ track record, probably significantly more). The editorial board then does something quite extraordinary and out of character, it actually looks. “But his own Ohio Department of Natural Resources director was quoted three years ago saying the problem had grown critical and something must be done.” But (for the sake of modesty?) the board doesn’t linger in its looking. Speaking on the 3-20-15 Columbus On The Record, WOSU’s Ann Fisher unabashedly stated that three years ago the ODNR’s figures for that tier 1 critical damn repair were half of what is given today (same ODNR that issues permits for fracking). Ann exercises her unconstitutional right to look. John the governator is quick to lobby nationwide for a balanced budget amendment. Given a contingency, he is just as prone to forsake the balancing act and borrow money to keep that damn issue from bursting his presidential aspirations (the state issuing bonds is a “politically correct” way of saying “borrowing money”, as someone waaaay in the future will be paying it off). But the right to look slips into the “legislated” right to look ever so perniciously. Practically innocuous is what Michael McAuliff reports via the Huffington Post (3-19-15, “Republicans Vote To Hide Costs Of Repealing Obamacare In Budget”). In a trying bit of reporting, McAuliff reports on the convoluted effort by the Senate Budget Committee to hide the added deficit to eliminate the Affordable Care Act while including its projected revenues within the GOP’s proposed deficit busting budget (“repealing Obamcare would add $210 billion to the deficit.”). “”We have a point of order in the budget for anything that adds to the deficit, but we have a section that specifically excludes the Affordable Care Act from that,” [Senator Debbie] Stabenow said. “So think about it. This budget is conceding the fact that the Affordable Care Act has reduced the deficit, and repealing the law would increase the deficit.” Stabenow also alluded a related problem the GOP budget ignores: At the same time that it instructs Congress to come up with a repeal, it continues to count all the revenue that the Affordable Care Act is expected to raise — and which the government wouldn’t collect if the law is dismantled.” But wait, there’s so much more. After having prostituted the US congress, and pulling a George Bush “So what?” in regards to his pre election negation of a two state solution re; Palestine and Israel, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu virtually won reelection in the recent Parliamentary campaign. As an aside re: the right to look, Harry Shearer (on le Show) ran a recording of the Bibi sitter’s address to congress back in January of 2002 when Netanyahu spelled out how much better off the mid east would be if Saddam Hussein were toppled by US military invasion. The day after his recent electoral triumph, some online pundit headlined that the US is following the lead of Israel, reflects what is happening there. How can this be, you say? The AP’s Ryan J. Foley headlines “Bills would limit access to officer body camera videos” (3-20-15). “IOWA CITY, Iowa – State legislators are pushing to make it much harder to release police officer body camera videos, undermining their promise as a tool people can use to hold law enforcement accountable. Lawmakers in at least 15 states have introduced bills to exempt video recordings of police encounters with citizens from state public records laws, or to limit what can be made public.” “Absent public-records protections, these police decisions can be unilateral and final in many cases.” “The Kansas Senate voted 40-0 last month to exempt the recordings from the state’s open-records act. Police would only have to release them to people who are the subject of the recordings and their representatives, and could charge them a viewing fee. Kansas police also would be able to release videos at their own discretion.” The elderly may (or may not) remember what it was like in the days prior to cameras on phones and the disruptive technology of hand held video recorders. For even a minor traffic violation, the state’s only witness needed to be the arresting officer. On the stand, whatever came out of his mouth was considered irreproachable fact. Currently several US states also have legislation pending that outlaws bystanders recording officers engaged in police activity.

“Move along now. Nothing more to see here.”

The Power Of Positive Thinking

March 8, 2015

This Sunday’s Newark Advocate (3-8-15) brought to mind an unsourced quote “the state considers as living only that which it can kill.” Quite a paradox! One can’t kill concrete so it must not be alive. Once, being alive implicated agency (intent, choice, etc.). The last horse to be sentenced to death by hanging came at the turn of the 18th to 19th century. At one time the very real war time existence of the enemy as a threat was verified by body count. Today, too many wars to count. It also brings to mind the last wolf killed in the great Granville (Pataskala?) swamp hunt of the early 1800’s. The obvious irony of all this is that if it is killed, how can it be recognized as living? Part of this may have to do with negative logic or thinking (thought process). Since the “positive” of creating or maintaining life or living can not be accomplished (tradition leaves that in the hands of the Almighty) then knowledge of this dynamic wonder can only be achieved on the basis of the trace and residue of its absence; hence, negative thinking. On a more mundane level, expert job creators (not to be mistaken for the Great Creator) continuously stress being positive on resume’s and in job interviews. Just the same, relying on the criteria of the destruction of something as valorizing its inimitable and irreplaceable life sustainability is, well, rather Orwellian. Kinda like blowing up a suitcase to say it was a bomb. In the end one is left with nothing more than the satisfaction of having destroyed something. Worth mentioning during a job interview? Newark’s Director of Public Safety seems to thinks so (at least for his boss’s sake). In an op ed column he expands on the wonderfulness of using Moving Ohio Forward funds (originally Homeowner’s Mortgage Settlement money?) for the demolition of 50 structures (one of which was the historic Children’s Home). Analysis found this to be incredibly negative, both in narrative as well as thinking. The column obviously could not go positive. That would require stating that 50 new residences were created for people to inhabit safely and securely. Rather, Mr. Spurgeon chose to state that 50 cases of blight were destroyed (which once were inhabited. Like the last horse hung, what determined the final occupancy?). It is no coincidence that this same paper headlined 5 aspirations (“goals”) for community building in Newark, er, “in order to thrive long term.” One deals with the absence of job skills coupled with the absence of adequate education, another with the absence of getting through the day without mother’s little helper. The last three are a kind of interlocking composite consisting of the absence of new commercial development in Newark itself as well as residential property ownership within Newark (The old real estate saw of “Location, location, location!”). Analysis finds these to be rather negative statements, something a job creator would not accept (though the Great Creator might). Would it have been so unacceptable (or impossible) to state these positively? Insisting that workers educate themselves, on their own dime, without the historic assistance of union apprentice training, may have left some jobs on the table unfilled. But hey, profits are up. It is a good and successful business strategy. Today education itself is big business. This success helps skill facilitating centers as well as lending institutions thrive. What could be more positive? Much as highland laborers in the Andes chew coca leaves, sweatshop workers chain smoke cigarettes, etc., central Ohioans rely on Aleve, Bayer Back and Body, Nyquil, and prescription pharmaceuticals (“That same year [2013], Licking County physicians prescribed opiates at a rate of 61.3 doses per resident, up from 59.4 doses in 2010.”). That’s positive. Saying that the denigration and submissiveness of precarious employment should be endured stoically, without pleasure, is a real downer (negative). The real estate location, ownership and development trio likewise could be stated positively. The creation of private business “campuses”, with their tax credits, abatements, incentives, etc. and their reliance on publicly funded infrastructure has contributed to profits being up for the landlords, developers, as well as the corporate tenants of these previously backward rural areas (the stock market is at all time record highs). Not being located in Newark itself is a blessing by freeing up areas for more residential rentals, facilitating a bedroom community for the precarious employment that these corporate “campuses” provide. Profits are up for residential landlords, developers, auto dealers, and financial lending institutions. Win Win! (“Rentals account for 44 percent of the city’s total occupied housing units, compared to 32 percent statewide, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Add in all the vacancies, and homeowners occupy just 51 percent of housing in the city.”) Every cloud has a silver lining. Analysis finds positive implications in Mr. Spurgeon’s negative thinking. The director’s enthusiastic presentation embraces these bedroom community entrepreneurs. Seeing through the negative logic, the message becomes clear: build it, profit from it, exhaust it, and we will clean up the mess.

The Newark News Authority

January 27, 2015

An amazing piece of writing appeared in the 1-25-15 Newark Advocate. The opening line reads:
“It’s time for Etna Township and Grow Licking County to sit down and find a way to avoid competing against each other for new jobs.”
Four lines from the end:
“We don’t need our own communities competing against each other on anything other than the benefits of one site over another.”
Just the day before, this same paper ran a news article by Kent Mallett entitled “Seraphinea’s is closing downtown location, Wild Things will expand”. In it Mr. Mallett gives Seraphinea’s owner saying: ““Everybody is always concerned when a new place opens, but competition is a good thing,” [Edward] Roberts said. “It brings more people.””
For small business owner and entrepreneur Edward Roberts, diversity is welcome and beneficial, “competition is a good thing”. For Gannett Corporation’s Newark Advocate, the only paper in town (the only one holding a megaphone), “We don’t need our communities competing against each other”. Monopolies are derisive of diversity. The “competition” of difference is perceived as a threat, not a benefit. But wait, there’s more. It is an amazing piece of writing!

The same day that Seraphinea’s move was reported by the same paper, the same reporter disclosed that “Trulite Glass to close Hebron plant in spring”. Grow Licking County’s Dan Ever’s earned his salary and removed the county’s sole CIC from any proximity with an alibi that it was only a calculated business decision (““It’s the result of an acquisition of the company,” Evers said. “The decision was made at the corporate level, completely about consolidation of assets, and no reflection on the men and women at that company.””). The following day’s amazing editorial reinforced that position, “It’s foolish to blame a CIC or anyone when projects land at one location or another.” When you’re the only game in town, you are privileged to take all the credit when convenient, and eschew any taint of blame. So much for the benefits of competition.

Analysis finds that this amazing piece of writing (“County only needs 1 CIC to attract jobs “ 1-25-15) effectively insinuates that the fine people of Etna township are incapable of governing themselves, of determining what is in their best interest, and how they wish to be identified, defined, represented, or promoted; all the provenance and raison d’etre of self-governance. This is astounding in itself when one recognizes that the amazing writing’s author gives proof of this through stating that “Grow Licking County successfully campaigned to block Etna’s plan to ask voters for a new development district allowing for new taxes on existing businesses and their employees.” But as though this was not reason enough for the residents of Etna township to consider alternatives, the amazing writing’s writer promotes unity under the Grow Licking County aegis. To rub pepper spray in the eyes of democracy’s participants, the editorial gives no alternative other than “supporting the countywide CIC fully both in funding and public support.” The writer then goes on to say “In Etna’s case, the development needs and opportunities are no different than in other areas of the county competing for new businesses.” Analysis, and any other reader, clearly discerns that if you pay to be part of Grow Licking County, you will be represented by the CIC even though the public/private partnership already receives very public funding from the county tax payers. According to The Advocate’s editorial board, this same CIC is to maintain a monopoly of no competition while fostering competition through upfront individual community payment (this blog previously pointed out such contributions by Heath, Pataskala, etc. in addition to what the Licking County Chamber of Commerce receives from the county itself). Folks not paying, or paying enough, aren’t playing. “We don’t need our own communities competing against each other on anything other than the benefits of one site over another.” (so please pay, won’t you?) So much for democracy with its self-governance.

Amazing, simply amazing piece of writing. After that, maybe Gannett Corporation’s Newark Advocate should change its name to The Newark News Authority. No need to look anywhere else!

Tofurkey

December 29, 2014

Aw, come on, admit it. You’ve seen ‘em, the great big tractor trailer rigs with the huge arrow running the length of the trailer, its point ending at the cab. “Our company’s greatest asset is found here.” (Analysis dreads considering what affect this has on the driver knowing that he is being equated with other ledger sheet resources like the company’s vehicles, buildings, IT logistic system, etc.) Analysis fails when considering what such an arrow, with its accompanying hyperbole, would point to if it appeared on the top of each front page of the Gannett Company’s Newark Advocate. The “readers”, residents of Newark and its surrounds who subscribe to and purchase the paper? Doubtful. The advertisers? Too few. Major PACs operating city and county gov’t? Fewer still, and too simplistic an answer, but intriguing given that the paper and the area’s sole radio outlet comprise the total advertising expenditure on both PACs’ financial disclosures. The intellectual labor at the Gannett media factory? Close, but with its ever shrinking commitment and size (both staff and reporting, the printing operation vanished in 2014, something not covered by the paper’s annual review of the past year), not convincing enough. The Newark Advocate itself? Bingo! The paper itself (both print and online) is the Gannett Company’s “greatest asset”.

Central Licking County can do better than a media source only capable of insuring that its monopoly publication appeals as broadly as possible in order to benefit from the largest number of readers and advertisers (along with the two “captive” PACs). Let’s look at some previously prescribed portions of this made to look like, but really isn’t, meat recipe:

City residential/commercial property maintenance: The Advocate position – Well, Newark needs it badly but we don’t want to inconvenience the landlords who own 43% of the city’s residential housing. A good thing too since that might affect the rents. But we’re all for it.
Jobs/connecting Newark’s unemployed to those jobs: Advocate position – Kudos to Grow Licking County and jobs created off 79 in Heath. The health care industry park off W. Main is the community’s greatest asset (and employer)! We champion job opportunities and growth in central Ohio. We regret that little is actually within Newark itself. Celebrating the projected Canal Market District we’ve purposely elided that once we celebrated this very same space as a proposed public transportation hub for the residents of Newark to access the area’s major employers along 79, W. Main, Granville Rd. and the expanding north end. Best left unsaid since we don’t want to alienate our car dealer advertising partners.
Public funding for the promotion of religion: Advocate position – We feel publicly funded institutions should not promote religion. However, we find the necessity of an anonymous and unnamed area resident challenging such promotional activity through the use of outside representation to be utterly reprehensible. This marginalized individual should have outed themselves. Our paper strongly endorses religion with a regular Faith section featuring acceptance and forgiveness. (Analysis indicates the Advocate editorial board completely missed the strong and obvious correlation with a representative democracy determined by anonymous, er, secret ballot)
Street paving: Advocate position – Newark’s streets urgently need to be paved and bridges maintained but the property owners who benefit from the public access provided by these thoroughfares should not bear any cost. Of course, residential water users will see their rates increase but that “benefits” them by allowing for the mandated replacement of 100 year old waste lines in the downtown business district.

Had enough tofurkey?

Trending Today

August 10, 2014

Quick rundown of Newark Advocate news (where the Advocate IS the news): The Advocate laid off a large percentage of its employees to vacate its printing operation and contracted with The Columbus Dispatch for those services. Well, not wanting to putter around in a big old empty building, quick announcement was that it was being put up for sale (though not quite totally vacant yet…). Then we learned that to contribute to the revitalization of downtown Newark, the new lean and mean Advocate would be relocating the remains of the operational staff downtown. All this revealed in abbreviated news flashes. The national news within the past two weeks was that Gannett (owner of the Newark Advocate) was separating (“spinning off”) its print division (what traditionally was always referred to as a newspaper, the emphasis being on paper) from its new, “everything’s up to date in Kansas City”, online “publication” (no, we’re not back in Kansas!). The two would still be Gannett, only occupying more shelf space for greater consumer choice and convenience. Besides, online revenue from advertising, data tracking sales, etc. are much more lucrative than yesterday’s paper which is today’s cage liner (“There is right now a huge, huge, commercial push or corporate push to collect as much data as possible.” Charles Duhigg, Author, The Power of Habit). Concurrent with that change, the Newark Advocate’s online webpage magically was transformed to a new format at almost the exact same time, one where viewer viewing habits can be more easily tracked, and the data collected sold (mere coincidence you say?). One needs to click on the brightly colored photo icons with their short teaser “headlines”. Gone are the community bulletin board where the viewer could appraise what is happening in Newark on any given day /week without having to click on anything, the short synopsis story under local, national, sport, etc. headings (again, requiring no separate click). Ditto for comments or most commented. In addition, there seems to be a virtual absence of (virtual) letters to the editor within this virtual space. Clicking such a heading might prove to be messy with regard to data mining (so lets leave it out). But one still can click on the print edition for the day, in totality (e newspaper), and get all of this and more. The more being the local in terms of events, calendars, advertising, etc. “You can see a lot by looking.” (Yogi Berra) One suspects that with the “franchise” separating the two aspects, the e newspaper online feature will likewise join the likes of the printing operation in Newark. To learn about the local will necessitate accessing a paper copy.

Analysis told you all that to tell you this. Perusing Sunday’s (8-10-14) e newspaper yields a rather quirky (and trendy) ad on the bottom of page 10. There, next to the internationally recognized logo of the Mickey D arches is “Thanks Mortellaro employees”. Followed by family portrait type photos entitled with location addresses (though all were taken within the same upscale draperied setting). And again “Thank you to all employees”. Ending with the McDonald’s logo, “I’m Lovin’ It,” and a conflated Mortellaro/Mickey D’s logo. This is indeed very quirky (and newsworthy) considering that Mickey D’s is second only to Monsanto in its aggressive litigious enforcement of compliance with marketing, performance and pricing of product line being uniform and homogenous, even extending to Ronald’s shoelaces being the correct color. So none of this is outside the purview of the franchise. Something coded you say? The ad quite specifically does NOT say “Thanks McDonald employees”. Nor is it apparent that the addresses given are those of Mickey D franchise locations. Curiouser and curiouser! Analysis thinks maybe some of overseas culture that America has encountered in the last 13 years has rubbed off on our current domestic one. It was not at all uncommon to read news accounts of “al Libby” as well as another long complete name, both of which were used by one and the same individual, like “Jimmy – the Greek.” Say “the Greek” and you’re talking about Jimmy. Say “Jimmy” and you’re referencing the Greek. But is saying “Eric Mason’s employee” the same as saying “an employee of the Grill’s whatever”? That’s new, and points to the introduction of the local connection to what otherwise is a monolithic (by design) corporate inviolability (the identity of a franchisee is normally treated as discretionary information, like who the landlord of a rental property really is). Which brings out the trending embodied in this page 10 “not the news” news. Covered only obliquely by this blog, the national movement IS for a minimum wage increase, especially at franchises like Mickey D’s. In the news, USA Today style (a Gannett publication), this always comes across as some kind of event taking place “out there” against that mean Mr. international corporation. This is never found under “local.” Here we have the nascent appearance of corporate PR successfully deployed in the reactionary disruption of the unionization of auto workers earlier this year at the VW plant in Nashville Tennessee. It was reported widely at the time that the vote turned out as it did because the various anti-union PACs targeted the employees’ families (as opposed to the employees themselves). Don’t let mommy, brother or son vote that way or the economy of the region (their future) might be in jeopardy. It worked. Now we have McDonald employees, not referred to as McDonald employees, appearing sans work uniforms in family reunion style pictures, being thanked as “Mortellaro” employees; just like part of the family, in family portraits! Why, there’s even a child in one of the “employee” portraits. Analysis has difficulty comprehending that either of the two M’s has figured out a way to get around child labor laws. So what else could it be but an appeal to just being one, big happy family? It is all quirky, definitely news, and very revealing of what is currently trending (“to tend to take a particular direction; extend in some direction indicated” Webster’s).

Representation

March 8, 2014

            Come the week end, The Newark Advocate usually runs an editorial entitled “Pluses and Minuses”. This week’s made no mention of the Advocate’s parent company’s decision to terminate its Newark printing facility, eliminating 74 jobs. With any other business doing likewise, that company’s actions would have appeared under the minus category. By eliding the matter entirely, indeed eliminating it from the radar immediate upon announcement, The Newark Advocate was able to continue representing itself positively. Preferred parenting emphasizes always smiling to the infant child. By the time we are adults, we knee jerk associate good things, “everything must be alright,” with representations of a smiling face. Walmart’s smiley faces, like The Advocate’s “Pluses”, sell.

 

            Kelly Kohls, the Ohio School Boards Leadership Council president, was in the news this week (Speaker argues against Common Core education standards, Mar. 6, 2014, Hannah Sparling, The Newark Advocate — “The council is a volunteer organization that bills itself as the “conservative alternative to understanding education funding, spending and legislative reform,” according to its website. It is not affiliated with the Ohio Department of Education, the State Board of Education or the Ohio School Boards Association.”). She is quoted as expressing her concern “We need to explain to people and wake them up…” “We need to fix this.” “It’s to take back education.” She makes no bones about her dislike of education policies involving many things, including Common Core standards. Representing herself and her position through the “need to fix”, ”wake up” or “take back” assumes that something is broken (is it?), that someone is asleep (are they?), and that something has been removed (has it?). The great communicator, Ronald Reagan, represented the former Soviet Union as “the evil empire” tacitly establishing the assumption that we are the good empire (and thus can do no wrong). This past week’s CPAC conference in Maryland trotted out more Kelly Kohl than Ronald Reagan. Rick Perry solemnly pronounced that America needs to return to greatness. Rand Paul also wants to go “back to greatness”, while Mike Huckabee promotes a return to family values. All of this is, of course, represented with a smiley face. To say that something is foul in Denmark, with a dour demeanor, simply will not sell. It says more about us, than it does about our corporate sales leaders, when we cannot even speak of things being awry without them likewise being “tastefully” packaged for selling.

 

            This week’s brouhaha with the Bowling Green township trustees’ meeting speaks to all this quite eloquently (Trustee’s meeting videos irk some officials, residents, Mar. 7, 2014, Joe Williams, The Newark Advocate). Although not Amish, many attendees of the meeting did not wish to have their representation appear on a video made of the various meetings. Video, photos, even this blog’s essays are representations. “Real time” video streaming is dreamed of much as perpetual motion machines once were aspired to. Evidence of this can be found with how many people quickly whip out their smart phones to record “real time” events. Friction did in the motion machines, time lag always does in video. It may be ever so minute, but it is always enough. The representation is what once was (historically existed), not what now is. Statistics, based on counting (mathematics), are not representations. In the news this week was that Ohio ranks second behind Texas among states in development (business start ups, etc.), likewise Ohio ranks close to last among states in terms of employment improvement (jobs created). How can this be? Think consulting firms, educational businesses, and job placement agencies coming into existence to help people “find” jobs without actually providing them. The “number” of start ups would be (and is) huge, while employment would not increase significantly at all. The relationship between numbers (very real) and representation (not real, though part of reality) is that numbers can only count what is represented. This “accounts” for much of the confusion, conflict and consternation. Whether a part of America’s lost greatness (which requires being taken back) or not, 74 people will soon need to find work elsewhere than Newark.  As part of what is real, numbers have no use for a smiley face.  

 

The News Making The News

February 27, 2014

            “Gannett moving Advocate printing to Columbus, eliminating 74 jobs”, Feb. 27, 2014, The Newark Advocate, written by Staff reports. (any relation to Staph infection?) The headline seems to say it all. The very paper that advocates resuscitating downtown Newark with businesses and development lays off a large number of employees, and shutters its own plant. Not a good sign. Analysis anticipates the “to be expected” snide remarks and cynicism regarding Gannett’s “purely for profit” business move and sure enough, the first online commentaries are in that direction. Of course, in their criticisms no one will consider the public/private partnerships funded specifically to rectify this, like the Chamber of Commerce’s Grow Licking County or the Newark Development Partners Community Development Corporation. As Nerk Aggrivate would put it, they’ve already gotten their money. (and received their accolades in The Newark Advocate as well!) Why not just give the Wolfe’s the rest and subscribe to The Dispatch as well? Analysis finds it not to be so clear cut and straight forward.

 

            More sad (and troubling) was the article’s inclusion of ““The Advocate is very much focused on driving its long-term, successful transformation,” said Executive Editor Michael Shearer. “We are committed to pursuing great journalism, effectively serving our advertisers and working for the greater good of our communities while at the same time positioning ourselves for an increasingly digital and mobile world. We remain deeply committed to serving the vital Newark community.”” Indeed, this was the only quoted (interviewee) statement, a mini “non-editorial” editorial by the newspaper’s, well, editor. It was sad (and troubling) because it was such remarkably wonderful “corporate speak”. Here’s a guy who has been actively advocating for improvements or causes beneficial to the community, who chooses to say that what he signs off on everyday “is very much focused on driving its long-term, successful transformation.” Into what? A frog, a prince, or maybe even Lady Gaga? His official editorials are written to make it sound like he is one of us, passionately engaged in what concerns us (excellent journalistic approach to writing, following in the footsteps of the greats), and yet this mini, “non-editorial”, editorial can only express a non-specific, specifically “corporate speak” agenda (“We are committed to pursuing great journalism, effectively serving our advertisers and working for the greater good of our communities while at the same time positioning ourselves for an increasingly digital and mobile world. We remain deeply committed to serving the vital Newark community.”) Is this how one speaks to one’s neighbors, those with whom one has shared conversations over the back fence? Is this what commitment looks like in our economy obsessed culture?

 

            As mentioned previously, it is not so clear cut and straight forward. If the cynics prevail, and we become informed through the big city Dispatch or national USA Today, then what becomes of our local? What identifies and defines our neighbors? We will be uninformed, and unfamiliar, with our neighbors and our neighborhood. The unfamiliar part is the more disturbing. Both culturally and politically we may find ourselves identifying with the likes of a Howard Dean or a Grover Norquist – some outside, well-funded power broker utilizing our allegiance, our “Likes” to further their own agendas (with no regard for any local concern, let alone involvement). Or we may become completely isolated by having no connection or interaction with the greater good, totally engrossed in our own personal everyday struggle to survive – regressing into a third world outlook, mentality and identity. No, there’s value in having local reporters, educated journalists capable of bridging the neighborhood with the global. Newark Ohio News Analysis originated almost exactly a year ago precisely because there is such a lack of insight, conversation and sharing of the local, by the local, for the local. (!) If the cynics have their way, and The Newark Advocate goes the way of its printing presses, we will have even less.

Beneficial To The Economy

January 15, 2014

Recently Analysis came across this description of “Jonathan Swift’s attitude toward what he names his modest proposal “for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland from being a burden to their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the public” by establishing a criterion for separating out a portion of the children at a certain point of their lives to be prepared as food.” The author had used it to emphasize “how close our treatment of the helpless can come to Swift’s proposals.” Jonathan Swift was an early 18th century English satirist and acerbic social critic. Most Americans know him through a Disneyesque lense of Gulliver and the Lilliputans, as a writer of children’s stories. Almost all of his vast publications were done under a pseudonym or anonymously, something quite common and accepted in the years prior to the American Revolution. The Newark Advocate has a strict policy against publishing anything of the kind (Even though J K Rowling pulled it off, for a brief while at least. The Newark Advocate would have made an exception to THAT, if only they’d known ahead of time!).

 

The quotation would read quite differently if it were modified to be like this:

Jonathan Swift’s attitude toward what he names his modest proposal for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland from being a burden to their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the economy by establishing a criterion for separating out a portion of the children at a certain point of their lives to be prepared as food. How close our treatment of the helpless can come to Swift’s proposals.

 

Did you notice the difference? Displacing “public” with “economy” makes it so much more up to date, 21st century, so now. Can you remember when what is beneficial to the public didn’t necessarily mean what is beneficial to the economy? The recent poisoning of the water in West Virginia immediately springs to mind (although most media coverage slips ever so “naturally” into referring to it in terms of the economy). If Swift were writing (under a pseudonym and, of course, not appearing in The Newark Advocate), he’d probably say something like “at least the car washes are still open and working!” Can you remember when what is beneficial to the economy was not beneficial to the public? No brainer – our contemporary “shared” time; the stock market is at record levels and continues to rise, money available for too big to fail banks is at record low interest rates (or free), and income disparity continues to expand.

 

In this blog’s December 1, 2013 posting (Can We Talk – Income Disparity?) Analysis pointed out that, like the Newark Advocate’s policy eliminating anonymous or pseudonym authorship, “income disparity,” “income inequality,” have likewise been banned from our available media forums. Analysis wanted to say “public” media forums but, as that posting points out, they have become (covertly) “economic” media forums (what appears is dictated by purely financial criterion). The word “public” is quickly slipping into “economy”; the assumption being that what is good for the economy, is always good for the public (so why even bother to use the word “public”? Efficiency benefits economy.).

 

“Public, adj. 1. of or pertaining to, or affecting a population or a community as a whole”  (Webster’s College Dictionary)

 

Newark Advocate Editorial Needs Careful Scrutiny

January 4, 2014

            It is quite unusual to analyze an editorial as an editorial is itself an analysis, something used to “connect the dots” of the many facts, sides and directions which have made the news and are designated as significant by the editorial itself. The January 4, 2014 Newark Advocate editorial (Etna tax proposal needs careful scrutiny) calls for analysis as the dots connected by the Advocate are all over the map. The issues involved have been covered by this blog’s previous post. Additionally, the paper itself revisits what is involved with that edition’s report by Chad Klimack, Etna, chamber still at tax impasse Trustees promise public forums on proposal. Ultimately the Advocate Editorial Board states that “We agree with the chamber on this one.” What, within the rhetoric of their analysis, led them to such a position? How did they arrive there?

 

            The Advocate lays out certain dynamics and scenarios which they assume others will agree with. Primary claim is that “At issue is Etna’s consideration of a new JEDD or JEDZ, acronyms for two types of joint economic development districts. Normally a JEDD or JEDZ is created to fund improvements to land making it possible for new companies to locate there. Normal income taxes are assessed on the new workers to help pay for things such road and sewer improvements, which made their new jobs possible.” But then a shell game of voters rights and business interest enters in. We are told that “Even worse, Etna trustees could begin taxing current residents and workers without a vote of the public if they chose the JEDD option. A JEDZ must be approved by voters.” and also that previously “One key issue here is that Etna voters have been unwilling to support tax increases of late”.  But the editorial board also notes that “The concept also has been successful in Etna as evidenced by the current JEDZ covering ProLogis Park, where the township says 90 percent of the workers come from outside the township. They pay a 1.5 percent income tax to the township.” The Advocate reinforces its position by stating “Etna’s success is key for Licking County, not only for jobs but the flow of traffic and goods.” And suggesting that “it’s time for Etna to begin looking at other long-term options necessary to create jobs and serve its residents.”

 

            Analysis finds this analysis (editorial) to be somewhat convoluted, but definitely in keeping with the times. What is at issue, the cost of needed infrastructure and how to pay for it, is not covered as an “issue” in the Advocate’s editorial. What we have is a jingo-ist appeal to voters rights and taxation. The Klimack article summarizes the reasoning by the trustees for going down the JEDZ road (which the editorial touts as “successful”) – ““The township’s businesses, [Etna Township Trustee John] Carlisle said, generate traffic, which affect its roads. For that reason, those businesses should pick up some of the cost of maintaining those roads, Carlisle added. “Nobody likes to pay taxes, but somebody has to pay for the infrastructure,” Carlisle said.” A little later Klimack writes “The township for years also has wanted to build a park for its residents, but it has not had the funds to undertake such a project, he said. A zone could fund such an endeavor. “Would it spur economic development?” Carlisle asked. “Who wants to move into a community where the kids don’t having anything to do, like go to a park?”” The Newark Advocate editorial completely ignores that southwest Licking county is one of the most active and growing residential areas in the county. Likewise that the 310/70 interchange is used by these folks to access their employment outside their home neighborhoods (and likewise immediately becoming part of the “90 percent of the workers [which] come from outside” some other community). To which Klimack adds ““The letter [from the Chamber] said they feel the (bridge) project is premature, but how can you say it is premature?” Carlisle asked. “There has been an outcry from business owners to widen 310 to get trucks to and from the corporate park for the last four years.”” There was even movement, some time back (contemporary with the development of Pro Logis and Etna Corporate Park), to build an additional interchange onto I70. So far Analysis finds that the infrastructure must be dealt with to accommodate both the business as well as residential growth of the community, that The Advocate considers JEDZ successful, and that JEDZ rely on someone else to pick up the tab (the “90 percent of the workers [that] come from outside the township”). Inferred is The Advocate’s promotion that the Chamber, which represents the business “residents’ of this community who do not vote but have all the rights of its citizens (but not the responsibilities?), should be instrumental in deciding any outcome. It is disingenuous for the editorial board to claim this is about voting rights while promoting the Chamber’s “vote” over the outcome; eliding that “the flow of traffic and goods” benefits the business community as well while advocating that they have a say without bearing any cost. By announcing that “We agree with the chamber on this one.” the Advocate endorses the shell game of taxing “workers [that] come from outside” and the citizens that reside in the community, but not the businesses for whom infrastructure maintenance and improvement are vital to their success. Unspoken (by the editorial board) is that the people of this (or any) community should be beholden to those who “create jobs”, and be more than glad to pay (for) them. This is definitely in keeping with the times. Twenty years ago it was claimed that job losses and lower wages were on account of jobs going overseas or Mexico, as well as goods coming in from there. Today’s news brings “In the end, Boeing worker Bob Dennis told The Associated Press as he prepared to vote for the deal Friday, “I think this is our last opportunity to keep those jobs in the state.”” (Boeing’s Machinists union OKs benefit cuts to keep 777X in Washington state Gil Aegerter NBC News 1-4-14)  The Advocate has reported the same on the demise of Meritor which made even less of an offer to its workers. The Advocate begins its editorial with “We hope the Etna Township Trustees are listening” It appears as though the newspaper itself needs an adjustment with its own auditory reception capability.