Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Yellow journalism: the Chron chickens out

Positively shameful.

In 24 newspapers around the state, a full-page ad ran today with a picture of Gov. Rick Perry and the word "coward" in large, capital letters. Back to Basics PAC, the anti-Perry group behind the ad, were hoping that number would be 25.

The Houston Chronicle (which happens to be hometown paper of Back to Basics' main funder, trial lawyer Steve Mostyn) opted not to run the ad. It turns out they were the only ones. It passed muster at every other paper the political action committee approached, including the state's other major dailies.

"It is kind of a glaring omission," says Back to Basics spokesman Cliff Walker. "Basically, the content that was accepted at 24 other papers was rejected."

This sort of thing goes up the chain of command, so the person who killed it was the publisher, Jack Sweeney.

"We were more than happy to run the ad if Back to Basics changed the headline," says Naomi Engel, a senior marketing representative at the Chronicle. "They declined."

Alternatives were explored, but to no avail.

"There were some recommendations on adjustments," Walker acknowledges. "We said, 'No,' and that was it."

They have compelled me to cancel my subscription. But I'm going to be certain the circulation department understands why, and further, there will be no more excerpting of their stories here. I'm also going to deactivate my account for commenting on their stories and blog posts.

I just can't support cowardice like this.

(I'm guessing that the Chronicle isn't in line to sponsor a gubernatorial debate either.)

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