Providing Greater Lancaster with an Alternative Source for Local News and Commentary  _________________________________________________________

 February 13, 2007                                         Publisher: LLC                         Volume 1, Number 24
Intell Scandal:
Fluke or Inevitability?

Was the regular spying by Intelligencer Journal reporters on a confidential government website an isolated fluke, or was it predictable that scandal would emerge under current management of the monopoly press? believes that top management establishes the moral compass for any organization. If it acts honorably, even when its own interests are at stake, it serves as an effective example for the entire organization.

But when top management makes exceptions to favor its organization's side investments (read: Convention Center) and encourages biased reporting and character assassination, the organization loses its moral direction. mourns what has befallen the local press under current management, and we recognize how destructive it is for our entire community to be subjected to its rudderless leadership.

But we are not surprised that scandal has broken out in full public view. We simply see this as an inevitable result of a sad and sorry pattern.

The solution: Replacement of top executives and at least two editors, or the sale of the newspapers to a reputable national chain.

Former Intell Reporter Speaks Out!

Justin Quinn, a former award-winning reporter for the Intelligencer Journal released a statement regarding the scandal involving his former Intell colleagues.

The following are excerpts:

"During my six years as a reporter for the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, I often disagreed with my editors regarding the choices they made when it came to covering the news. It was my opinion that in most cases they were too cautious and non-aggressive in their approach to particular news events and happenings and I was often bewildered by their omission of the critical details I had included in stories.

"In some cases the editors simply refused to present all sides of a given subject...and the public was often vastly misinformed or simply obstructed from viewing pertinent information.

"...I cannot understand why the Intelligencer Journal would now try to excuse unethical behavior by saying that repeatedly accessing a confidential law enforcement website (and ignoring two pages of legal warnings) was simply 'a routine reportorial tool.' In my opinion, the essence of the Intell's editorial is not consistent with its pattern of caution in other areas of news reporting.

"I also certainly hope Lancaster Newspapers uses this opportunity to rethink the way it goes about gathering news and to perhaps shuffle its players to ensure the most ethical reporters and editors are the guardians of the process. Perhaps those editors who so often go unrecognized for their excellent abilities will finally get their due. For Intell readers, it is their only hope."

Baltimore Sun: Convention Business Sharply Down
In an article that will likely raise further concerns about the viability of the proposed Lancaster hotel/convention center project, The Baltimore Sun reports that the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association bookings for 2008 are down nearly one-third since 2005.

The Feb. 10, 2007, article indicates a startling drop in hotel bookings for the $300 million facility::

"Despite a publicly financed Hilton convention hotel set to open next year, Baltimore's major convention business appears to be declining, prompting concern from officials for the city's investment."

One public official commented, according to the article: "There was a lot of rosy projections during that hotel debate about how if you build it they will come," said Baltimore City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., a mayoral candidate. "And you know, I always said it was a risky venture for the city to be getting involved in the hotel business."

Critics of the Lancaster project have raised concerns that with a lack of downtown amenities and entertainment venues, poor air and road access, heavy downtown traffic, and a risky financing scheme which puts more than 90% of the costs on the public, the proposed project is destined for a taxpayer bailout.
City appointee's term to Authority has long expired. But who cares about laws when you control the press?

Dave Schwanger's term as a city appointee to the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority expired last September, but he remains and the City hasn't considered a replacement.

After all, what are laws to a governmental body which has recklessly and with doubtful legality started construction on foundations when both its ability to sell $68 million in bonds and to collect a $15 million state grant are tied up in litigation?

Now the question is whether Authority votes taken since last September, especially those that went 4 to 3, are legal and applicable. Perhaps now that the Authority has only six legal members, they need to go back and start over from scratch.

And for whom are they saving the seat? Perhaps Ted Darcus when his term expires this coming September?

213 Days...

Until county appointees make up a majority on the Convention Center Authority Board (and taxpayers get some accountability)

Journalism Ethicists Criticize
Intell Behavior

In the recent case involving the Intelligencer Journal, the purpose of the illegal entry to the county's secure 911 web site appears to have been solely to give one publication a competitive advantage over another. According to law enforcement officials, information released had no value to the public but instead disclosed information that, if kept secret, could help detect and prosecute those who committed the crime.

Samuel G. Freedman is a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Freedman teaches "Critical Issues in Journalism," which is the required ethics course at the school.

"The important issue is whether the information illegally obtained rises to the level of providing a public service or is in the public interest. If it is not in the public interest to publish the information, that is unethical," says Freedman.

Another expert on journalism ethics, Jeffrey Dvorkin, Executive Director of Committee of Concerned Journalists and Missouri School of Journalism professor, says that the reporters aren't the only ones to blame.

"It is the editor's role to say that certain information should be published or not," says Dvorkin, former ombudsman for National Public Radio.

"Journalists have an obligation to act in the public's best interest. If the public had a right to know this information, then it was probably justifiably reported. If that was not the case, then that's a problem for the journalists and the publication. The information must have some value to the public. Just because you have information does not mean it has to be published."