Thursday, January 15, 2009

Reading the Signs

Reading the Signs I

According to the Wikipedia entry on "Vandals":

The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Goth Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths and regent of the Visigoths, was allied by marriage with the Vandals as well as with the Burgundians and the Franks under Clovis I.

The Vandals are perhaps best known for their sack of Rome in 455. Although they were not notably more destructive than others, the high regard which later European cultures held for ancient Rome led to the association of the name of the tribe with persons who cause senseless destruction, particularly in diminution of aesthetic appeal or destruction of objects that were completed with great effort...

..."Vandalism" is from the French vandalisme, which originated during the French revolution. On August 31, 1794, there was an explosion of the powder mill of Grenelle in Paris. The Abbot Grégoire denounces vandalism (it is the first time that this term is employed).**

It has been speculated that the Arabic term for Muslim Spain Al Andalus is possibly derived from the berber pronunciation of Vandal: "Ouandal". *

*vandals - Definitions from Dictionary.com

The attack the other day on the Eternal Peace Light Memorial on the north end of the Gettysburg Battlefield was as dastardly an attack as the Park has ever seen, with possible permanent damage to the memorial in several places.

The people who did it are indeed guilty at least of moronic behavior. They are sociopaths as is evidenced by their oppositional behavior and lack of respect for the bounds of society. Sadly, we have no other idea of why this was done to a memorial to Peace, other than senseless vandalism. People do not protest Peace. People don't taunt the authorities, either as these "pinheads" have done.

We are incensed at this senseless vandalism and have decided to offer a $100 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who perpetrated this crime. We have notified the National Park Service to this effect.
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Reading the Signs II

It has the stink of death about it. It is not a sudden thing, though the ultimate end certainly will be sudden. But it began months ago as a long slow glide down the slope to its ultimate demise.

And so begins the death watch for the Gettysburg Times.

Recently, a drop in local advertising [spurred by a drop in circulation???], led to an expansion of coverage area to include the Emmitsburg, Maryland Area. Emmitsburg's weekly paper died about a year ago, and left what was a small gem in a large void in the Emmitsburg area. So the Gettysburg Times decided to attempt to fill the void.

Unfortunately, there is hardly enough advertising revenue and subscriptions in the Emmitsburg area to support the added expense involved in both selling ad space, and reporting the news from there.

Recently, the Gettysburg Times has gotten much thinner.

Recently, the Gettysburg Times has run a Police and Fire Log two columns wide in very large type. Apparently the editor and the compositor, who may very well be the same person, had too much page 3 space to fill. This is another sign of the demise of the newspaper.

Recently the Gettysburg Times, citing bad economic times, outsourced home delivery of its print editions.

Recently the Gettysburg Times printed an unattributed, opinion piece on its front page as if it was news, in its efforts to push their agenda of backing the expensive new football stadium at the high school. It took two days for the author to be identified, and no apology or explanation as to which editor authorized the front page publication of the piece which at best was little more than a PSA on behalf of the Gettysburg Education Foundation.

Not so recently, and continuing since, the word has gotten around town that if you want to read about Gettysburg, subscribe to the Hanover Evening Sun.

The fact of the matter is that print media around the country have become opinion mongers, rather than dispassionate news disseminators. Politics has controlled the editorial desks of almost all newspapers in this country, and each one has developed a social agenda to go along with their politics.

The agenda of the Gettysburg Times is about as pro-development as a newspaper can get. The valid reason for the above reference to the Hanover Evening Sun starts in the news articles on township meetings. General news, and vagueries are what the Gettysburg Times prints, seldom any detail as to size and scope of development being discussed, or of any issues that might have arisen during the meeting. John Messeder is a master of this, and Scot[t] Pitzer has been learning at his feet. Contrast the work of the reporters from the Sun, and you will quickly see a totally different story than what the Times prints. This doesn't mean the Sun is not pro-development -- it is very much so -- but at least it does not filter the news to keep the taxpayers in the dark.

Contrast the editorial policies of the two newspapers, and you get a clear, though sometimes flip-flopping policy from Marc Charisse at the Sun. At the Times there is...well, can anyone remember when the Times published an editorial by its own editor [presumably B.J. Small, but sightings of him are rare these days!]?

The masthead on the front page of the New York Times boasts "All the news that's fit to print!" Sadly, that once great newspaper has fallen on hard times because it has lost its way. It no longer prints "All the news that's fit to print!", printing instead all the news its editors think you should be allowed to read.

The Gettysburg Times has practiced that policy for years. Doing so has set its course for self-destruction because it has a diminishing readership that increasingly loses its trust in the paper, and finds its new conveniently at hand from another source in another city. For years, coverage of the Gettysburg Area has been light years better, and more honest, in the Evening Sun than the Gettysburg Times.

Editorial excess occurs when the editorship of a news organ becomes so convinced that he or she knows so much better what is good for his readers that he begins force-feeding a strict diet to them. The Gettysburg Times is, like many, indeed most, of the newspapers in the nation, guilty of such excess, and of the intellectual dishonesty that goes with it.

The epitaph of the Times will not be long in coming. Perhaps someone will buy the paper before it goes under, and perhaps they will at least attempt to resurrect it with an honest editorial policy. But they will have a huge hole to climb out of to achieve success. We doubt the current ownership and editorial board have it in them to make the kind of changes necessary. Current ownership betrayed the taxpayers with their backing of the super-expensive high school football stadium.

Newspaper deaths are a sad spectacle. We can only pray that they come to their senses sooner rather than later, though they will be in a diminished role thanks to the Internet. Nevertheless, there will always be a need to tell the taxpayers what goes on in Straban and Cumberland Township meetings, and Gettysburg Borough Council.

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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Evening Sun and Gettysburg Times both leave a lot to be desired in their reporting. But they're both small town newspapers, and we chose to live here, so these are the newspapers that we are stuck with.

If you want to read about Straban Township, you'll probably want the Hanover Sun.

If you want to read about Gettysburg Borough Council, buy the Times. Scott Pitzer has three stories on the front page every day.

If you want to read about the Adams County Commissioners, buy the Gettysburg Times.

Gettysburg School District? Hanover Sun has the better coverage.

Upper Adams? Gettysburg Times.

Eastern Adams? Hanover Sun.

Emmittsburgh - Gettysburg Times.

Littlestown - Hanover Sun

If they merged the newspaper together, we may finally get a good legitimate newspaper around here!

Anonymous said...

Why would you even compare John Messeder and Scott Pitzer? Their styles are nothing alike! John Messeder already thinks he knows everything. Scott Pitzer calls it straight down the line. Big difference!

GettysBLOG said...

Scot[t] is far too opinionated for his age. Like many young folks, he does not leave room for "another point of view".

John, indeed, is a possessor of all knowledge.

Anonymous said...

You wrote in your blog that if you want to read the news of Gettysburg, you should read the Evening Sun.

I subsribe to both newspapers, and could not disagree more. As a matter of fact, I am not renewing my Evening Sun subscription when it expires.

Your opinion about the Gettysburg Times may be based on a history or grudge, but its certainly not based on fact. All you have to do is look at the papers every day and see for yourself who covers Gettysburg more. It's definitely not the Evening Sun!

GettysBLOG said...

Well, then, we'll have to agree to disagree. For years, people who want to read about Gettysburg and Adams County and not get a tainted view by the parceling out of bits of information and the witholding of others, read the Evening Sun.

The Times is dying. They will, we think, cease printing a daily edition sometime in the next 6-12 months, and try to make a go of it by charging subscriptions to their online edition.

And by the way, when was the last time the Times published their own Editorial on the Editorial page [unlike the one they published on the front page to tout the Stadium Project. Good, newspapers don't make blunders like that. You don't have to be a great newspaper to survive, just do three things: cover the local news, have a visible editorial presence, and get every edition out to the subscriber. Its no mean feat, but the Evening Sun does it and does it well. Not so the Times.

Reader said...

If people have for years been reading the Sun instead of the Times, one might think the Times would have died already. The Times has been around for decades, and it's not on its way out because those in charge have made a few poor choices (i.e. the authorless pro-stadium piece), or because some of its stories anger those who are anti-stadium, anti-development, or anti-anything else. In this day and age, everyone with a computer and a screen name seems to think they are a reporter, columnist, or media industry expert, and the comments on this site only strengthen that opinion.

GettysBLOG said...

Well, for goodness sakes, if you don't like what you read, don't read it, but it certainly doesn't call for insults.

We've been at this a while, and have met with some success.

We don't just write "anti" pieces, which had you read more of our posts you would know.

Indeed, the posts since this one contain one "anti", and the rest are pro or neutral.

So it appears you have made some valued judgments based on the wrong sample.

We still see the Times as a struggling newspaper, with a projected limited lifespan as it appears now.

Even more serious, we see Adams County and Gettysburg Boro attempting to prevent financial meltdown and in the course of things, killing the goose that lays the golden eggs around here. Neither are equipped to deal with what is about to happen to our civil, social, and economic structure in this country.

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