Hey I love the First Amendment. It's one of the things that makes this country great. Our newspapers don't have to clear what they publish with the government. Important? Yes. Because of this important right, our newspapers constantly promote themselves as "watchdogs", "defenders of the public," and a critical part of a free society. But it doesn't work both ways. Not with the Star Ledger anyway.
I always thought that newspapers had a duty (not legal, but moral) to report the news as news, and keep opinions to the editorial page. That as defenders of the public's right to know, they had an obligation to report ALL of the news to the public, not just the news they agree with. Apparently this doesn't apply to the Star Ledger.
Case in point. Bob Mulcahy, after his firing, stated that he wrote to the Star Ledger after some of their erroneous articles, and informed them that their information was incorrect. The SL's response? There was none. Mulcahy stated that the SL wouldn't even print his letters! Now, look I'm not bitter because the Star Ledger has not printed any of the letters I've sent them. I understand that some of them may not be fit for public perusal. After all, I'm just another short-sighted Rutgers fan, whose opinion should not be taken seriously. But Bob Mulcahy? The Athletic Director of New Jersey's flagship university? You trash an AD's work in your paper, he writes a response and you don't publish it? I know censorship is traditionally imposed by the government, but aren't these actions a form of censorship as well? How can you hold yourself out to be a defender of the public if you censor what information you provide?
Funny, but a Rutgers supporter just posted something called, and I kid you not, "The Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics." It says journalists should:
— Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing
So I'm not the only crazy one. There's a whole Society out there that thinks this is a good idea.
Oh wait, it gets better. Not content with slanting their stories, the SL has now stooped to trying to cheat its own advertisers out of the publicity they paid for. You see, a university as large as Rutgers, that's been around as long as Rutgers, that has the reputation of Rutgers tends to put out some graduates that are much more polished with their prose and debating skills than I am. As part of the thousands of Rutgers alumni, parents, students, and fans who were outraged about Bob Mulcahy's treatment, these people decided to do something about it. Having learned from Bob Mulcahy's mistake, they decided they had to make it worth the Star Ledger's time to get their position in the paper. So they took out an ad. They called up the SL, negotiated a rate for an ad that set out in language fit for public consumption (unlike mine) all of the misstatements the SL had previously published, along with verifiable facts of what actually happened. The Star Ledger's price for printing this ad? According to some of posters involved about $8,915. What was negotiated? For the ad to be placed in the front section of the paper.
Now the Star Ledger, especially in its present financial condition, doesn't like to turn down advertising money. So they agreed to do this. These Rutgers supporters breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, there in print in the Star Ledger would be the truth about these oft-repeated allegations. All of Rutgerdom bedded down for the night, while visions of written redemption danced in their heads.
Until they awoke the next morning and found that the Grinch apparently is in charge of placing ads in the layout of the Star Ledger. Lo, there was no ad in the front section. Well, maybe it's in sports because this is about the Rutgers athletic department. Nope. The New Jersey section, because Rutgers is the state university? Nowhere to be found. Know where it was? In the County section buried on the third to last page at the bottom.
When the SL was called on this, they first tried to argue that they could put ads anywhere they wanted. Fortunately, these Rutgers fans had an e-mail trail of exactly what was negotiated. The SL when confronted with the paper trail acknowleged their error and said they would "try" to rerun the ad this Sunday either in the front or New Jersey section.
For those of you, who like me, have never read the County section of ANY paper in your life, here's a copy of the ad. And for those of you who advertise in the Star Ledger, BEWARE!