Thursday, February 07, 2008

It Wasn't Like It Was Heather Mills and Paul McCartney

On Tuesday, I quoted Rush Limbaugh with approval. Today it's Ronald Reagan's words I cite. "There you go again!"

The News-Press is back to practicing hit and run journalism. The victim once again is a familiar target, former city councilman Brian Barnwell.

First of all, let me say that I have no idea whether Barnwell failed to follow the stipulations of his property settlement agreement and remove his former wife's name from "any and all encumbrances and debts" related to a piece of property he was awarded in their divorce.

Second of all, I don't care! Nor should anyone else in this town.

Yet, an article about a court hearing on this issue made it into Wednesday's News-Press.

Since when do post-judgment hearings in divorce cases get covered by the News-Press?

Let me tell you why this is not newsworthy.

1. It affects no one other than the parties involved.

2. No one was killed or injured.

3. No property was damaged.

4. In light of the fact that Barnwell lost his council seat in last November's election, both of the people involved are private citizens.

This story has all the newsworthiness of paint drying.

Of course one reason to run the story, indeed the only reason to run the story, is because Barnwell is on the paper's enemies list, and if the story has any chance of embarrassing him the News-Press is going to err on the side of embarrassment.

The News-Press wasn't content to merely run a news article on the hearing, which the judge continued to a later date to take evidence on. It was also the subject of editorial page editor Travis Armstrong's op-ed page column Wednesday.

Trying to imply that the allegations against Barnwell are sensational rather than somnambulant, Armstrong writes, "the legal filings in Mr. Barnwell's case outline what he apparently hasn't done to live up to his obligations to his former wife. I'll leave it to others to explain those details."

Armstrong, a law school graduate, apparently wasn't paying enough attention in the class on mortgages to explain to News-Press readers what a secured loan is. Or maybe it's because if the details were explained readers would quickly see what a non-story this is.

This isn't journalism. It's a drive by shooting.

* * *

The News-Press and the Teamsters union return to the bargaining table on February 12th. Four days have been set aside for negotiations.

Those four days will be twice the amount of time the parties have spent negotiating so far. They last negotiated at their initial bargaining session in November for two days.

A bargaining session set for the first week in January had to be canceled when associate editor Scott Steepleton, the designated representative of the paper, phoned in sick.