Three Times The Journal

bowlingOnce is a mishap, twice is a coincidence, but three times makes for a pattern.  And that’s three times in the past three weeks.

I’m of course referring to the Albuquerque Journal and their incessant melding of the paper’s political agenda with its news reporting.

The Journal was at it again this week, publishing a story about the federal stimulus package on the front page of its Tuesday edition.  Large parts of the story appeared to have been borrowed from a previously published Associated Press story.

As I read Tuesday’s story, I couldn’t help but flashback to my favorite old-fashioned bowling alley.  You know, the kind where you can actually see people setting up the pins after a frame and you can actually see the ball come back out to you on a conveyor belt after you hurl it down the lane.  The whole game is laid out before you.

For me, the Tuesday story was analogous to the guys setting up the pins, placing them perfectly in preparation for waiting bowlers to knock them down.  But, I digress.

The big story in the Tuesday edition of the Albuquerque Journal questioned the existence of “shovel-ready” projects from the federal economic stimulus package.

Here’s the lead…

New Mexico’s slice of the $787 billion federal stimulus-money pie might not be as groundbreaking as expected.

The “public face” of the stimulus effort has been a worker in a hard hat, employed on a federally backed infrastructure project, The Associated Press reported nationally. But reviews of spending in New Mexico and around the country show that the phrase “shovel-ready” to describe the focus of stimulus projects probably has been overused.

In fact, in New Mexico and around the country, social spending, not construction, is in line to be the biggest winner in the ambitious federal effort to spark a sluggish economy.

“NM Stimulus Projects: Not So Shovel-Ready,” Albuquerque Journal June 9, 2009.  Click here for the full story (you may need a subscription).

There is nothing wrong with critically examining the stimulus package spending.  In fact, critical examination of the spending is crucial.  But such an examination should also include facts about how much has actually been spent thus far, the timeline of spending (as it applies to the actual onset of the current recession), the most effective way to plug state budget gaps and information about how spending on things like Medicaid, unemployment insurance and education might stem the tide of a recession.

Tuesday’s Journal story would have better served its readers if it clearly identified the specific reported story from the Associated Press.  That way, readers could have examined the original story to get a more complete context and background.

Instead, readers of the Albuquerque Journal were subjected to an incomplete story, devoid of proper context.  The story, predictably, was followed by a highly critical opinion piece from a regular columnist and critical editorial from the paper’s editors (think of those bowlers I referenced earlier in the post).

I know space is at a premium in today’s newspapers.  Newsrooms are shrinking, and delving into complex subjects in a meaningful way can be an enormous challenge.  But, there were glaring omissions in “NM Stimulus Projects: Not So Shovel-Ready.”

Instead of an examination of all relevant parts of the stimulus debate, the Journal published a story that amounted to a thinly veiled critical analysis of governmental spending on social programs.  As any reader of the Journal knows, this is a perfect “news” story set-up for their editorial page to knock down.

This is yet another example of fingerprints from the Albuquerque Journal’s political agenda showing up in the news section of New Mexico’s “paper of record.”

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2 Responses

  1. Another point to consider is that the very interests that the Journal is constantly defending were the ones who forced cuts in infrastructure spending so they could have tax cuts. Talk about hypocrisy.

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