El Paso Times Gossip: Beyond Yellow Journalism

It is no secret that the news media is going through reorganization as the platforms of the Internet have liberalized news sharing from concentrated and centralized corporate delivered systems to citizen driven information exchanges. Blogs have begun to replace the news conglomerates much to the chagrin of the El Paso Times.

It is also no secret that I have no respect for the El Paso Times as a news delivery vehicle. Except for a few reporters, who are not at fault for the decisions made by Bob Moore, the local paper has epitomized yellow journalism at its finest. Plain and simple, the El Paso Times has sold out to the local politicos.

But even as jaded as I am about the quality of the El Paso Times, the latest installment by Marty Schladen has left me baffled because his latest piece so blatantly proclaims that the El Paso Times doesn’t even pretend to be a newspaper anymore.

Schladen’s article on March 17 titled; “El Paso public corruption spotlight: Travis Ketner resumes law practice; writes ethics tips” is nothing more than a gossip column. It is an article that will probably end up as an example of what professional reporters should never write.

Schladen starts out as he should, laying out the facts that belong in a newspaper.

Travis Ketner pled guilty to public corruption. Ketner’s law license was suspended because of a guilty plea. Ketner wrote an an article for the Texas Bar Journal about ethics. Schladen writes that Ketner’s journal article “sparked outrage in El Paso”. All facts relevant to the topic of the article.

And that’s where it should have ended.

Instead Marty Schladen continues on the worst news piece ever put on paper.

Schladen writes about confronting Ketner outside of his office by describing what Ketner was wearing. A “pinstripe suit pants, a red tie and a white shirt”, as if Schladen is now a fashionista writing for a fashion magazine.

As if that wasn’t enough, Schladen goes on to describe the location of Ketner’s legal office. “The area is dotted with bail bonds businesses, taco stand”, you get the picture.

So now Schladen is a realtor finding the perfect office space for a lawyer’s office. But he doesn’t stop there.

Schladen then describes Ketner’s car; “he drove off in an older Ford Mustang”, adding this doozy; “There were long dents in the driver’s-side panels.”

In one piece, Schladen covered GQ fashion tips, HG TV on location spots for upcoming trending lawyer’s spaces and a Car and Driver tips for those looking for an older Mustang.

This left me wondering, was I reading a third-rate crime novel, I mean with all the descriptive adjectives or was I reading a news report?

But it gets even worse.

Schladen then fills in his diatribe with “some speculated” and “many in the community speculated”.

Excuse me, but since when is “speculation” a news source?

I don’t expect much from Marty Schladen as he set aside his journalistic ethics a long time ago. Neither do I expect the El Paso Times to do anything different, especially under Bob Moore.

But this latest doozy is so blatant that to call it even a gossip column is giving it too much credit. El Paso Times sees no ethical dilemma in negotiating the sale of its building while writing favorable articles about the people making the decision to buy the building. It has no problem with publishing articles and then immediately removing them from the Internet, as if somebody called them up and told them WTF are you doing, take it off!

It is obvious the paper supports and gives special treatment to favored benefactors while targeting others it finds disliking. For years it has done this while under the tutelage of Bob Moore.

But the latest example doesn’t even attempt to pretend it’s a newspaper. Instead the paper publishes a blog as if it were news.

Come to think about it, maybe Marty Schladen isn’t so stupid after all. He may be seeing the writing on the wall. He may be auditioning for The Enquirer.

He might want to keep on looking though, even The Enquirer has some standards.