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A Newspaper’s Boosterism During a Pandemic

A worthy person – a man or woman committed to reason, honesty, and seriousness of purpose – would have little respect for the Janesville Gazette. This critical view is not a new one, truly: the paper’s work has been inferior during the Great Recession, during an opioid crisis, during cheerleading for countless state and local corporate welfare schemes, and continues this way even during a pandemic.

Boosterism – accentuating the positive no matter real conditions – plagues and degrades communities wherever it is found. It’s a doctrine – and after a time, an addiction – of mendacity.

Look no farther than the Gazette’s already-stale series of stories published this weekend under the “Progress 2020” tag. They’re from a special standalone section of boosterism’s greatest hits:

From the editor: Momentum grows in our communities “Part of the job of a local newspaper is to report on the challenges faced by area communities, and we take that responsibility seriously. But it’s a change of pace for our journalists to seek out and dive into stories about what’s going right in our communities.

That’s what this section is about.

We hope you enjoy reading about local Progress and are encouraged by the momentum in southern Wisconsin.

If the editor of this newspaper – Sid Schwartz – took his job seriously, then he would not publish out-of-date, repackaged stories about economic conditions that most certainly will not appertain to 2020.

Schwartz is like a man who predicts sunny weather ahead as a hurricane approaches. A worthy man, by contrast, would help others take shelter and prepare for the advancing storm. 

Does Schwartz think that the stories in his “special section” describe conditions that will yet come to pass in 2020? If he does, then he’s a dunce. If he does not think that they’ll come to pass, then he’s a liar who deliberately publishes erroneous forecasts.

Everyone connected with this broadside of boosterism – every last person who has allowed his or her name to be connected with the Gazette’s work – should rethink his or her ethical obligations to the truth.

Communities benefit from accurate descriptions, and practical advice, grounded always in realism.

8 comments for “A Newspaper’s Boosterism During a Pandemic

  1. Attendee
    03/23/2020 at 11:00 AM

    Tough but accurate.

  2. MB
    03/23/2020 at 11:41 AM

    Stories like these are all about selling advertising for the special sections. Advertisers only want rosy scenarios to make people feel good. They think potential customers will not pick up a copy of anything else. Admittedly this is a tone deaf use of special sections in the regular paper. Your hurricane metaphor is a good one. You assume however that these guys are in the weather forecasting business. They’re not. They’re in the ad sales business at a paper like Janesville’s. It’s not journalism anymore.

    • JOHN ADAMS
      03/24/2020 at 6:07 AM

      Men who are about selling advertising are about selling anything.

  3. J
    03/23/2020 at 12:36 PM

    So clear how much this website despises boosterism. No theme comes through stronger.

    In a different place there would not be that role to play but in our area there is a plentiful food supply. Bon appetit.

    • JOHN ADAMS
      03/24/2020 at 6:04 AM

      Yes.

  4. Not The Paper Boy
    03/23/2020 at 2:11 PM

    do they think about what they write????

    • JOHN ADAMS
      03/24/2020 at 6:04 AM

      Not in the way that a sensible person thinks about what he or she reads.