Monthly Archives: January 2008

Pouring Salt on an Old Wound

Since the Giants moved to the Meadowlands in 1976, New Jerseyans have lamented the fact that the official name of the team remains the New York Giants. With the Giants headed for a Super Bowl showdown with the New England Patriots, the Associated Press is pouring salt on this old wound. A national story moving on the AP wire details the long-standing sports rivalries between New York and Boston – without once mentioning that the Giants have called the Garden State home for more than 30 years.

Photoshop Gone Wild

Last November, there was considerable controversy over an Asbury Park Press photo illustration of the Governor Corzine’s asset monetization plan. Now a photo illustration on the cover of Golfweek magazine has cost the publication’s editor his job.

According to the New York Times, the cover image included “a noose for an article about Gold Channel host Kelly Tilhgman’s use of the word ‘lynch’ to describe how young players could challenge Tiger Woods.”

Although there was internal debate at Golfweek about the cover, the magazine has no African-Americans on its staff.

Obama, Green Bay and a Prayer

Traditional, mainstream media outlets often are critical of blogs and websites for posting unsubstantiated information, which makes its rounds on the Internet and can be regarded as fact by its readers. But mainstream media doesn’t help its case when it elevates the status of such internet rumors. That’s what NBC’s Brian Williams did in last week’s Nevada debate when he asked Barack Obama to respond to Internet rumors that he is Muslim, that he held the Koran when he took his oath of office and that he does not recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Now with the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants about to play for the NFC championship, a “Packer Prayer” based on the Our Father is circulating on the Internet. Not only is the Associated Press making the text of the prayer available to its member news organizations, the wire service also has written a story about the “prayer” and the clergy’s reactions to it.

Looking Beyond the Numbers

Martin Luther King Jr. Day provides an opportunity to reflect upon Dr. King’s dream of racial equality, equal justice, equal opportunity and world peace. Indeed, his dream is closer to reality today because he forced the most powerful nation on the face of the earth to examine the moral consequences of its actions and decisions. Yet many challenges remain ahead.

The level of diversity in the news media provides an interesting example — both in terms of the numbers of minority journalists, as well as how those numbers impact the manner in which news is gathered by media organizations and interpreted by audiences.

To read more on this topic read Looking Beyond the Numbers. It was written about a year ago, but the points it makes still are valid.

Attacking State Debt

With the State of New Jersey in dismal fiscal condition and facing even greater dire consequences for future, Governor Corzine has taken a business approach — not a political one – toward righting the state’s financial ship.

In his State of the State address today, Corzine, the former chief executive of Goldman Sachs, will announce details of his plan to utilize revenue from the state’s toll roads for needed road maintenance and infrastructure improvements and to pay down the massive state debt that has spiraled to historic levels in recent years.

From a purely political standpoint, the proposal is wrought with danger signals. Republicans have been denouncing it since he first broached the idea a year ago, and members of the Governor’s own party have been less than warm to the concept. Meanwhile, New Jersey motorists aren’t likely to take kindly to anticipated increases in toll rates.

From a business standpoint, the plan reflects Corzine’s knowledge and experience in the fiscal industry. We can agree or disagree with the Governor’s recommendations. That is our right and our responsibility, but at least he has put a proposal on the table for debate and discussion — instead of following in the paths of others who have taken politically expedient approaches. Two years after taking office, Jon Corzine’s experience as a successful Wall Street executive is finally taking center stage.

Silence and the Judge

It’s disappointing that Karen Munster Cassidy, the Superior Court judge in the McGreevey divorce case, declined the Star-Ledger’s request to be interviewed for a profile story the newspaper wrote about her.

Clearly, Cassidy had a right to decline the interview – and there may be a legal reason to keep quiet – but this is reminiscent of the same mentality the greeted Mercer County Prosecutor Joe Bocchini’s comments on the much-publicized case of alleged sex assault by state troopers. At a time when the public is rightfully demanding more transparency in government, Bochinni provided a rare insight into how his office is dealing with this high profile case – on a professional and personal basis. For this, Attorney General Anne Milgram re-assigned the case to another county.

By not talking to the Ledger, Cassidy allowed other people to define her (although they did it in glowing terms) and the public missed out on learning what makes the judge in one of New Jersey’s highest profile legal cases tick.

Focusing on the Wrong Target

Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow is in no position to complain about the Rev. Al Sharpton, who is facilitating the surrender of Otis Blunt, a convict who escaped from the county jail in December.

The Star-Ledger is reporting that Romankow is upset because Sharpton’s National Action Network notified the press about Blunt’s possible surrender before contacting county authorities.

All protocol aside, Sharpton was able to do what Union County authorities were unable to – find an inmate who had been on the lam for nearly a month after escaping from the county jail by chiseling through a wall and hiding the opening with pictures of scantily clad women.

Instead of complaining about Sharpton’s media policies, Romankow should continue focusing his attention where it belongs – on correcting the problems which first made it possible for Blunt and another inmate to escape and then tragically led to the suicide of a corrections officer who worked at the jail.