In shutting down an old blog that never really went anywhere, I found this post. The details have changed but the general pattern has, if anything, gotten worse:
Friday, October 28, 2005
Beefing about WDEL….
The yak yak has improved a lot on WDEL with Mascitti and Fulcher having daily gigs. But the news operation is another story.
WDEL managers have said–to me, anyway–that “all credible news sources” should receive equal attention. And they say, for example, that Green Delaware is credible in our field.
But one has only to look at the WDEL site to see where the stories are originating—the content is almost exclusively from government or commercial press releases. Yes, there are exceptions, but only enough to “prove the rule.”
I began to follow this a few weeks ago when I noticed that EVERY Green Delaware Alert or release was ignored. That when I occasionally called to try to interest the newsroom in a story it was always ignored…. Yesterday a report on a refinery leak with sound only from the refinery flack…. This morning every “Delaware’s Top Story” based on the views of a government official or corporation…. And on and on …
Stenographers……we might as well be in the Soviet Union.
Why is it this way?
Three factors come to my mind:
o Evangelical Christian churches and the Dirty Solid Waste Authority, for example, are significant advertisers on WDEL. While almost no media outlet will admit it, money talks.
o Direct pressure. For example, DuPont’s Dioxin Pile flack regularly calls Delaware media and complains when I’m quoted. They also complain to management about individual reporters who resist being manipulated.
o The revolving door: Many reporters either have been, or might be in the future, flacks for legislators, corporations, or government agencies. Thus, the relationships are closer than they are with “us,” and people tend to take on the values of their employers.
(Of course, I’m not saying that every reporter in Delaware has fallen into these traps….)
But the only solution is to HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS AND COMPLAIN BACK….
Pete Booker, General Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, 478-2700
Chris Carl, News Director, email@example.com, 478-8898
(If I understand the organization of WDEL correctly, Carl’s boss is actually the new-fascist drum-banger Ric Jensen.)