BY BILL CLEARY
Recently a North Jersey news service blog was looking for free lance reporters to write three articles on the upcoming state election. The blog was planning coverage of each legislative district race and the information gathered was going to be put in a voter guide. The topics included: a scene-setter describing briefly who’s running, the big issues, where the district is located, how redistricting has changed it, etc.; a story on the Senate candidates; and a story on the Assembly candidates. The goal was simple: straight reporting on just the facts.
The blog asked if I was interested. They were offering a generous sum of money for the job. Being busy with CNBNews I turned the offer down. When asked to recommend someone, I contacted an independent reporter who worked for me sometime ago with 30 years experience. She knew South Jersey politics like the back of her hand, and had an impeccable reputation.
She was hired and was enthused about the assignment. A few days into the job she had contacted several politicians and was off to a great start putting the project together. Towards the end of last week she spoke to the aide of a South Jersey legislator to setup an appointment to interview the senator.
Here is where the story turns bad. The aide knowing that the reporter was a Republican chairperson from a small town took offense that she was writing an article about his boss, a Democrat. He contacted the blog in North Jersey and complained. As a result, the reporter was fired.
Can you imagine having a retired senior citizen living on a fixed income fired because of her political affiliation?
A spokesperson for that blog wrote me the following email after I gave her a piece of my mind.
Using someone as a reporter who is a municipal party chairman would leave us open to criticism of possible bias. Obviously, it is already of concern to some of the Democrats down there (meaning South Jersey) or we would not have heard about it -- she did not tell me of her position when I engaged her to do the work, and I did not think to ask because I would never think that a reporter would hold a party seat. I have been a reporter for 28 years and have never run for any office of any kind in any organization because I would never want anyone to be able to accuse me, rightly or wrongly, of any kind of bias. We have billed this as NJ's only nonpartisan, unbiased, news-based election guide and having a Republican chair could lead some to question that.
Mind you the reporter hadn’t even submitted her story. So how can the editors of this blog or anyone make a decision about the article (s) being biased without reading the final completed article (s).
Anyone with any knowledge about politics will tell you that South Jersey is controlled by the Democrat Party and Political Boss George Norcross. To think that this reporter, because she was a Republican chair person, could write something that would cause the Democrats to lose power in this region is just laughable.
It makes you wonder too how low some people will go be they Democrat or Republican for the good of “The Party.”
Although she was dismissed, she didn’t want the legislator’s aide to be fired for complaining to the editor of the North Jersey news blog. She is assuming that this legislator wasn’t aware of what happened. As such, she requested that I not write anything at all; however, she asked that if I did express my views, that I respectively not mention anyone’s name.
It is tales like this one that proves time and time again that “politics” is the game of power that the mighty play in order to hold their domination over the weak.
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