When the Lewiston Morning Tribune recently published a disgusting Mike Luckovich cartoon featuring an ‘active shooter drill’ with a little black child huddling under a desk stating “It feels like preparing for the cops to show up”, it set off a local firestorm against the newspaper that received national media attention. In the days immediately following the cartoon’s publishing, the LMT’s editor Mr. Nathan Alford authored two front-page pieces in an effort at damage control. The controversy and Mr. Alford’s reaction to it perfectly illustrates the divide between the narrative created by “journalism’s alternate reality” and the world its customers are living in. Mr. Alford’s second article can be read at the link below:
The Sept. 24th Alford article amazingly seems to promise change by validating the very media narrative that blinded the LMT to the cartoon’s disgusting message in the first place; and then concludes with Nathan Alford “baring his soul” in a tearful plea to heal the divide with respect and love. Mr. Alford is the Lewiston Morning Tribune’s current editor and the latest generation of the family that founded the paper and has been running it for 127 years. What would Nathan Alford’s ancestors think of the state of journalism today and the LMT’s participation in its decline? They are probably spinning in their graves right now.
Mr. Alford’s article started off with a laundry list of current societal pressures including isolation, fear, and hunger caused by the pandemic, the emotions caused by the upcoming election, the “amplified sounds” of the BLM movement, etc. etc. The implication being that the cartoon was simply a trigger that released all this pent up emotional pressure in the community. Mr. Alford, your customers would have been angered by that cartoon regardless of current events. The problem is not your customers’ inability to cope with the pressures of the world, it is your staff’s inability as journalists to recognize the cartoon was too disgusting to be printed.
Mr. Alford continued by validating his media bubble world in the article by listing a wide range of media narratives, and he amazingly projects these narratives as if they are the shared beliefs of his readers!
“It’s upsetting that Black people fear police in this county.” Mr. Alford, 81% of Black people want the same level or more police presence in their communities. Your readers know that the minority of Black people who fear the police do so largely because you and your industry portray cops as racists thugs which they are not.
“It’s upsetting that protesters are lumped in with looters and rioters.” No Mr. Alford, your readers know that the Antifa and BLM “protesters” are the rioters.
“It’s upsetting that good cops are lumped in with bad cops.” Mr. Alford, it’s you and your colleagues that lump good cops with bad cops, your readers know the difference and support the police.
“It’s upsetting that it’s somehow one or the other – Black Lives Matter or the police.” Mr. Alford, your readers want law and order and it’s not upsetting to them when the police arrest BLM rioters.
“Opinions are systematically served up by Google’s search algorithm consistent with your established biases.” No Mr. Alford, your readers know that Google censors conservative opinion and serves up liberal media bias, and your paper’s editors do the same thing.
“It feels like a ‘slap in the face’…” Yes Mr. Alford, it is reality slapping you in the face. It is reality penetrating the media bubble you live in that is keeping you awake at night. It is reality screaming at you to remove your paper from the media’s bubble, follow journalist ethics and produce a quality product. Stop projecting your media bubble biases on your readers. Spend your time conveying the most accurate portrayal of the world as it is, not a narrative of what you want it to be.
Mr. Alford concluded his article with what can only be described as the literary equivalent of a group hug.
“If we want real change, it starts with you and me. Every morning my feet hit the floor, I stand up with respect, kindness and love for all…. It’s time to heal…. Let’s love one another.” Etc. etc.
Ok, that’s all just fine and dandy, but a group hug will not fix the Lewiston Morning Tribune or increase its circulation; a quality product will. Get back to basics: report who, what, when, and where in hard news items. Report on all sides of a story and don’t omit facts that don’t conform to the media’s narrative or your own personal biases. In the Opinion section, cover both liberal and conservative viewpoints and get back to your traditional goal of inspiring critical thought on the issues. Be balanced. Expose corruption. Trust your readers by printing the whole truth. In short, just do your damn job, Nathan, and your family’s newspaper will thrive again.
Tags: Cartoon, Joseph Gish, Lewiston Tribune, Nathan Alford