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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Can't buy me love

You would think someone in political office as long as Boston Mayor Tom Menino would understand the line between politics and journalism -- and business.

You would also think he would understand the concept of an appearance of a conflict-of-interest.

But you would apparently think wrong.

Menino insists he has the purest of motives in his offer to use the Boston Local Development Corp. fund, a private nonprofit administered by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, to help keep the Bay State Banner afloat.
“This is about me helping a business that is very important to the minority community,’’ Menino said. “I will step up any time and help any business in this city. I’m trying to help a business survive. Tell me if that’s wrong.’’
That's wrong.

Mr. Mayor, the Banner is not just any business. It is a newspaper, one that has whacked you pretty good over the years. Keeping it alive is a noble goal. That way it can continue to whack you and you and your successors (if it survives that long).

And every step it takes, every story it writes with your name in it, will be examined for potential bias if the city helps prop it up.

It's heartening to know there is a group of potential investors led by Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree trying to step up and purchase the paper from longtime publisher Mel Miller. It is disturbing to think that they apparently also do not see the potential for headaches in a city-sponsored loan.

After all, let's just think about the precedent if the city sponsored a loan for other struggling new outlets.

Can you see Jack Connors, Steve Pagliuca and Steve Taylor approaching the mayor's office as "representatives of the Banner's interests" apparently did.

"Hey Mayor, can you tide us over in trying to buy the Globe?"

The Banner has been an important voice in Boston media for four decades. It is important that it's voice not be stilled -- whether by closure or by the perception that it is a house organ paid for by City Hall.

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Blogger Judy Meredith said...

I'm surprised this doesn't tempt you to get back into the newspaper business. You could write really tough stories about Menino just to prove the paper hasn't been bought with a modest $200,000 loan.

July 17, 2009 7:52 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Nah, I like steady, gainful employment :-)

July 17, 2009 10:13 AM  

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