Friday, February 14, 2014

Gloves Off in Censorship Fight Between JLCNY and Binghamton Press

Smartphone pic of the indexed and time-stamped opening page of the lawsuit informally known as JLCNY vs. Cuomo — yes, on the fracking thing.  Delivered to me and the world by Twitter at 11:25 a.m. today.  The Binghamton Press and several sister Gannett papers wouldn't run a story on this lawsuit until they had proof.
In a comment today, Feb. 14, that's buried beneath a prior post from me here, Joint Landowners Coalition of New York Spokewoman Susan Oliver (not to be confused with a WPX Energy spokeswoman by the same name) has gone public with an accusation stemming from an unsatisfactory sit-down session with a key Binghamton Press reporter (now former) and editor from several years ago.

This is Oliver's comment:

"My husband and I met with Tom Wilber and metro editor Ed Christine a few years ago to address the paper's bias and we'll never forget what Christine said: 'In your lifetime, you'll never see drilling in NYS; maybe your kids lifetime, but not yours.'"

[Added Feb. 17, but without bothering to update the whole post:  I've let this quote from Ed Christine sink in for several days now.  Ordinarily, I would have something to say about it.  And this would certainly be an appropriate, transitional place to do so.  But my mouth is still hanging open.  And I think my best plan is to just let these words similarly hang.  In fact, I've now hung these words, at least for the time-being, on the opening banner of my blog — as motivation for ordinary people in Upstate New York...  But now let's move on with the rest of this story.]

This morning, the JLCNY finally formally filed its lawsuit against Cuomo on the governor's perpetual dodge to a decision on fracking.  The lawsuit was again dutifully reported by Gannett's Jon Campbell in an electronic post dated yesterday, Feb. 13, at 6:15 p.m.

However, as of 10 a.m. today, Feb. 14, I still don't see it reported online in Gannett's electronic platforms serving Binghamton, Elmira, or Ithaca.  (It did make the news at Gannett's Rochester outlet, however.)

I'm already tweeting about it, and this is what we have back so far:

So it looks like JLCNY must actually personally deliver to the Binghamton newspaper's headquarters
a time-stamped copy of the actual filing in order to get into their own local papers.

You wouldn't think the news-gathering business would be made so cumbersomely bureaucratic by those on the inside, who are employed to go up against bureaucratic stone walls every day.  But — for some newsmakers, on certain topics, and at some papers — it is.

Anyway, I'm sure these last, petty, knuckle-headed hurdles will be surmounted by the landowners, sometime today.  Helluva way to treat statewide news-making readers from your own circulation area, but that's what "unbiased" community journalism stands for nowadays.


Better get it notarized, though — certificate of authenticity, and all that.

And, if the handoff of this paperwork actually happens in person, I'd like to get a copy of a photograph of this historic occasion.  I could certainly run the picture here. 

Possibly one of those classic "Grip and Grin" shots, with a big blow-up of the paperwork, and maybe some Valentine's Day visuals — yes, that would be cool.


More on this dispute, as the day wore on:

At long last, the story "Southern Tier landowners sue Cuomo over fracking delay" was posted in Binghamton (and presumably the other papers) at 1:42 p.m., Feb. 14.


Anonymous said...

I've noticed something else rather insidious about the PSB's handling of fracking news. Any negative article or comment seems to remain for several days with high visibility, while articles favoring fracking or those with positive comments seem to disappear quickly. Case in point, the current landowner lawsuit. It has been re-posted several times, and there are currently TWO copies posted - the first in the list has no comments, the earlier one (but both time-stamped 9:17 on Friday) has 4 comments, mostly in favor of the lawsuit.

Andy Leahy said...


You know, I bet you're onto something.

I used to notice similar weirdness, back in the day when they didn't charge for online access. Whole skeins of (often far out) reader commentary would be wiped out by an inexplicable electronic update to the story, even if hardly any text appeared to have been changed.

Now my electronic view is impaired by my reluctance to financially support whatever it is this and the sister papers have become. I'm at my freebie limit quite often. And I only intermittently see a print version, purchased by a crossword addict in my family.

I have long thought that Southern Tier readers should organize as a voluntary, self-appointed Citizens Committee for Way Better Journalism.

They should divide up the labor of going through that paper's print and screen versions every day with a fine-toothed comb, and taking notes.

And they should give reporters, editors, and similarly mystified readers a regular accounting of their take on the P&SB's many failings.

Such a committee would need its own low-carbon electronic platform, free of the self-protective throttle on any truly sharp feedback, as currently wielded by the Op-Ed editor.

But such a committee should also be prepared to demand the paper appoint an ombudsman to regularly deal with this kind of grief in person. And to step in, when independently warranted.

I realize that shale gas is just a single and somewhat narrow issue. But paying close attention to the way this has played out, for years now in New York, has been very illuminating for me.

The anti side has truly done a masterful job in demonstrating the political power of this kind of pressure — on some level, professionally organized, but coming across to the media as carried out by a grassroots army of the panic-stricken.

Just compare how this issue is covered in most of PA and, say, Binghamton, NY. And then compare again how this is covered in Binghamton, NY, and, say, Albany, NY — it's truly remarkable.

After all that, it's equally remarkable to me that NY opinion polls would show anything even close to a split on the fracking question.