by Travis Mateer
The title to today’s post is taken from the PR-focused mind of this dude:
Before getting to today’s op-ed from Jeff Welsch, let’s take a look at this dude’s feelings about free speech. I especially appreciate the work being done to ban trolls and limit speech at Lee Enterprises.
As journalists, those of us who produce content for Lee Enterprises’ five Montana newspapers are firm believers in free speech.
But free speech isn’t always without consequences or ramifications. Think yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.
So it is with our social media pages, which since their inception have included reasonable rules of engagement in an attempt to ensure civil discourse – making it clear that violators would be subject to hidden posts and outright bans.
If it isn’t clear how serious Lee Enterprises takes the behavior of trolls using naughty language, here’s some actionable steps they are taking to ensure discourse is oh so civil:
In an effort to help limit such consequences Lee Montana has compiled a (lengthy) list of inappropriate words and phrases that will either be automatically removed or hidden. This list is in place on Facebook pages associated with the Billings Gazette, The Montana Standard, Helena Independent Record, Missoulian and Ravalli Republic.
Ok, with that commitment to free speech clearly established, let’s pivot to YOUR STORY and where it’s going to be living (emphasis mine):
These days, the refrain has echoed to the groaning point of cliché: Newspapers are dying.
And sure, the assertion contains some grudging truth. Sadly for us nostalgic sorts, the traditional print newspaper seems destined for the dustbin of history alongside the likes of Blockbuster Video, Royal typewriters and fast-food joints paying less than $20 an hour.
That’s unfathomable for a newspaper junkie who still gets a surge of adrenaline watching the first fresh papers flow off a printing press conveyor belt at midnight.
Ink-stained gloom and doom aside, I write with a message of optimism: Lee Enterprises’ five Montana newspapers have made an emphatic commitment to local people-centric journalism unlike any I’ve witnessed since our industry’s headiest days began ebbing in the late 1980s.
Our mantra going forward is “Your Story Lives Here”, a tagline that serves as a reminder that local news is a pillar of a community’s cultural fabric. And that we as editors, reporters and photographers are neighbors deeply embedded in these places we call home, some for a lifetime.
I’m glad the five Montana newspapers Lee Enterprises manages has a mantra to fall back on because, as much as I’m loathed to admit it, the power of Lee’s information assets to EXCLUDE a story is still a very real thing.
The most recent example of this narrative power is the story of Rebekah Barsotti and the seeming blackout of local reporting until her body was finally identified by the Crime Lab on June 2nd. Once that happened, every local outlet in the region finally put her name on their dying platforms, including the Missoulian with this article. From the link (emphasis mine):
Rebekah Barsotti was identified as the deceased using dental records, according to a press release from the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office. They released Barsotti’s identity Thursday afternoon. Her body was found near River Bend Road east of Superior.
An investigation into the cause of death and circumstances continues, the release stated.
“This is such bittersweet news for all of us,” a family member wrote in the Find Rebekah Barsotti Facebook page on Friday morning.
The bold part of this excerpt represents a significant failure of Lee’s reporter, Zoe Buchli, and I know this because I know how Zoe Buchli TRIED to get a quote from Rebekah’s mother, Angela Mastrovito, by texting instead of calling, and was quickly shutdown.
That is why Zoe Buchli had to include a quote from an unspecified family member making a comment on Facebook. Pathetic.
The history of media control is available to anyone who desires to STOP being manipulated. Heck, even wikipedia can be helpful with tepid descriptions of the operational manipulation that occurred under monikers like Mockingbird. From the link:
Operation Mockingbird is an alleged large-scale program of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that began in the early years of the Cold War and attempted to manipulate news media for propaganda purposes. According to author Deborah Davis, Operation Mockingbird recruited leading American journalists into a propaganda network and influenced the operations of front groups. CIA support of front groups was exposed when an April 1967 Ramparts article reported that the National Student Association received funding from the CIA. In 1975, Church Committee Congressional investigations revealed Agency connections with journalists and civic groups.
To wrap this post up, here’s a screenshot from a PDF I’ve brought attention to before because it makes tangible the claim that the CIA has a long history of investing in narrative control with assets like Pete Talbot’s daddy, John.
Fun times in Zoom Town!
Stay tuned here for the stories our narrative controllers don’t want you thinking about.
Thanks for reading!