Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Newspaper's Leadership: Dumb and Arrogant

Any experienced business person would wince at the apparent business ineptitude and wanton abuse of journalistic prerogatives enumerated in the Henderson vs. Lancaster Newspapers suit.

For years, many have speculated about the business acumen of Lancaster Newspapers' chair, Jack Buckwalter. But to see offense upon offense as described in the law suit leads one to conclude that Buckwalter is both inept and considers himself and his company above retribution.

NewsLanc urges readers to take the time to read the suit in its entirety. It is spellbinding in its narration of the series of events and numerous journalistic misrepresentations! Here are but two excerpts:

"138. With the malicious intent of convincing the public of the truth of their intentionally false publications about Plaintiff, Defendants buried this single "correction/clarification" that related to an issue that Defendants had made the subject of five false but emphatic front page stories or Editorials deep into the interior of the May 9, 2007 edition of the New Era. Upon information and belief, hundreds of thousands of people read the five stories falsely accusing Plaintiff of participating in a 'secret sale' of Conestoga View but only a fraction of this same readership read the belated 'corrections/clarifications' that explicitly acknowledged the false statements that had directly accused Plaintiff of participating in a 'secret' sale of Conestoga View. Under these circumstances, as deliberately contemplated by Defendants, this 'correction/clarification' completely failed to ameliorate the falsity of the earlier publications and was ineffectual in repairing any of the damage caused to Plaintiff and to Plaintiff's reputation by the earlier false and defamatory publications."

"143. On information and belief, not only was Defendant Buckwalter, as the senior executive for Defendant LNI, requiring Defendant LNI's reporters and editors to attack Plaintiff for her actions that were contrary to the financial interests of PSP and Defendant LNI regarding the Convention Center and Hotel Project but, on at least one occasion according to former New Era reporter John M. Spidaliere, Defendant Buckwalter authorized the Editor Defendants to publish an article attacking Plaintiff that used a specific reporter's byline even though the reporter did not write the article."

It is natural to look at any plaintif's accusations with a degree of skepticism, but here we find repetition of misrepresentations by the newspapers both before and repeatedly after having published corrections in obscure, back page locations.

Buckwater should demonstrate the decency to enter retirement. Ernie Schreiber, editor of the New Era, should be shown the gate. The three newspapers should be allowed to compete for readership and take opposing positions, all without influence from top business management. And an ombudsman of unquestionable integrity and from a location far from Lancaster should be engaged to monitor ethics and pursue criticism and complaints from the public.