Over the life of the magazine, Michael Nighan has served as historian of illustrious visitors to Rochester. He has also been our media critic, highlighting how the local media (esp. the Democrat and Chronicle but also The City) often fail to live up to the faith we place in them as guardians of journalistic integrity.
The other day I received from Michael this note and accompanying poem:
I recently stumbled over a great example of D&C hypocrisy where they roundly condemned others for telemarketing abuses just a few short months after Gannet paid out mega-millions to settle a class action suit brought against them for their identical sleazy TM tactics (a news story they “forgot” to publish. I was going to write it up as a standard article but then decided that Edgar Allen Poe had already provided a more appropriate format for such a tale.
(Sadly, based on a true story,
and with apologies to A. E. Poe)
Once upon a midnight dreary,
while I pondered bleak and bleary,
over many a glass of forgettable cheap wine (quite poor).
My buddy Jim began a-ravin’,
and his arms he started wavin’
about a journalistic fail, a sorry media tale,
of hypocrisy galore.
Only that, and nothing more.
Ah, distinctly I recall it.
It was in the rainy August
while I waited, silent as a barnacle,
Jim spoke of the Democrat & Chronicle,
with their blatant double standard
and obvious lack of candor,
and their censorship, he swore,
that they’d cease,
It seems that back in April,
as a journalistic staple,
the D&C a “Thumbs Down” gave (*)
the knaves who come calling, calling to our chamber door,
To sell us crap.
And more and more.
Presently my glass grew empty,
though the wine was there a-plenty,
hesitating then no longer, I began to pour.
“Dear sir,” said I, “your story starts to bore”.
Quoth Jim, a-ravin’, “Wait, there’ s more!”
“OK”, said Jimmy, “now I gotta
tell how David Andreatta
the other day, of robocalls was bitching, (@)
‘cause they sent his cell phone twitching,
though the feds said they should do it
“That’s it”, said I,
“and nothing more?”
Quoth Jim, still ravin’, “Here’s the score!”
“The D&C’s tears a-falling,
over robocalls a-calling,
are for crocodiles, nothing more.”
“Harken”, cried Jim, his frown unveiled,
“just last year Gannett was nailed
for robocall abuses by the score.” (#)
“Class action suites were filed,
Gannett’s tactics were reviled.
They had to pay out millions (they were sore).
Yes, they paid out 14 millions,
and not just to civilians.
That’s the price for telemarketing cocksure.”
“But Gannett brass killed the story,
(introspection’s not their forte)
and their guilt they didn’t want to answer for.
Because customer attrition
could result from their admission
so the story sank, to rise up
“Profit!” I cried “and hypocritical”
“one need not be analytical
to see why not a particle
of a D&C news article
made known this story on our Great Lake’s shore.
‘Tis self-serving censorship,
and nothing more.”
Suddenly there came a-rapping,
of an empty glass a-tapping,
as Jim, an expletive he swore.
“An editor’s letter, I’d have mailed it,
had I not known they’d round file it,
in the wastebasket, ripped and tore.
With opinions that are critical
of their parent company, parasitical,
such letters get buried
“But wait!” I cried “There’s City Newspaper,
who would surely dance and caper
to prove that they’re supportive
of free speech, a shortage
of which the D&C displays.”
Jim spoke, “I tried to have them print it.
But I must confess, they didn’t.
They ignored my rapping, rapping on their e-mail door.”
So I have to ask the question,
Why do we have such suppression,
of letters which the editors abhor?
So have fair and open presses
gone the way of dinosauresses?
With our letters to be printed
(*) Thumbs Down “for the millions of unwanted calls made to landlines and cell phones every month. Despite the FTC’s efforts and the Do-Not-Call registry, telemarketers continue to pester people while scammers are working hard to con callers out of their hard-earned money.” – D&C April 27, 2017)
(@) “Dear Heather from the dealer processing department: We’re through. Stop calling.” – Dave Andreatta, D&C, Aug. 18, 2017
(#) Gannett, agreed to pay $13.8 million to settle a class action suit prompted by their use of robocalls between 2010 and 2016, a suit that alleged that the company, “directed its agents to make unsolicited telemarketing calls to thousands of consumers’ cell phones in an effort to increase subscriptions to its newspapers.” – Clark and Schlossberg v. Gannett Co., Inc. Settlement, Nov. 14, 2016)