Thursday, August 30, 2018

While Mueller Investigates Russian Meddling in US Elections, Pravda may be Alive and Well in Hackensack

In today's high tech world with 24/7 media coverage available literally at your finger tips there are allegations that fly rampant of "fake news."  Politics aside, we all see it everyday.  Whether a conservative, liberal, or moderate, we all see the memes and posts disseminating fabrications, misrepresentations, and even at times outright lies, to serve a political end.  We, as a polarized society, all have our favorite news sources with their right and left leaning tendencies.  But in this high tech world where news can circulate the globe and touch millions of people in the matter of moments, it is more important than ever to know your source.

For those who may not be history buffs--Pravda, or Russian for "the truth," was the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.  During the Soviet era, Pravda was circulated throughout all of Russia offering analysis on economic, social, cultural, and science, as well as "current events."  The paper offered one sided coverage encouraging unity and promoting the "party line" serving as the mouthpiece for Lenin and Stalin.  As a state-owned periodical, Pravda had more than a "leaning bias."  It was political.

The North Jersey Media Group (formerly Bergen Record) has long abandoned Hackensack news covering really nothing more than the scandalous high readership topics (you know, the "bad" news) such as the Zisa criminal case and civil lawsuits and recent police misconduct allegations.  Such void of current events along with the rise of social media has made way for online media outlets such as Daily Voice, TAPinto, Patch and even blogs such as Hackensack Scoop.

But like I said, in today's fast moving digital world where media is shoved in your face 24/7, know your source!  Just as you wouldn't (well, unless you were a communist) have consulted Pravda for an objective analysis or news about soviet policies--would you rely on the Mayor, a council member, or the city's public relations firm for an objective analysis or news about the City of Hackensack?

Meet Dan Knitzer.  Dan is the Editor in Chief of TAPinto Hackensack.  With a tag line "Your Neighborhood News Online," TAPinto Hackensack describes itself as "an all-online, objective, hyperlocal newspaper servicing the residents, business owners and organizations of Hackensack, NJ."

Outside of Dan's work as the Editor in Chief and reporter for TAPinto Hackensack and various political activities, he is also an Account Executive for Visions Media Marketing.

Knitzer's LinkedIn

A Screenshot from Visions Media's website

You may, or may not, recognize the name Visions Media Marketing.  They are the public relations firm that represented the City of Hackensack prior to, and after, the 2017 municipal election in which the current council was elected.  There was a brief break in their representation of the City of Hackensack (well the council) during the election to presumably avoid the conflict of interest present in Vision serving as public relations consultant and paid campaign manager for the council's election bid.

Yes,  you are reading this correctly.  The "objective" news outlet TAPinto Hackensack, which you may be relying on for news about the City of Hackensack is run and written by an employee of the City's paid public relations consulting firm.  Do you see any close similarities to that Pravda description earlier?

Let's take a look at the objective news that has been covered by TAPinto Hackensack....

Let's take a look at April 2018, the height of the Board of Education Election-
  • An announcement that polls are open
  • Profiles of the Labrosse backed candidates for Board of Education
  • Accusations of wrong doing in Board Attorney's pay from Labrosse backed candidates
  • Article about a lawsuit served on the Board and offering commentary about non-Labrosse backed candidate who sits on Board
  • Unfounded allegations of wrong doing against Board of Education and School Board Attorney full of comments and bolstering of Labrosse backed candidates (about to be a lawsuit at the taxpayers' expense
Recent Board of Education coverage?  A piece profiling Frances Cogelja's (the Labrosse backed candidate) position on the alleged wrong doings by the Business Administrator prior to her employment by the Hackensack Board of Education.  While it is a sad and embarrassing thing that this former Business Administrator's name is now affiliated with Hackensack, the politicizing of it by Cogelja is inappropriate.  She used it as an opportunity to blast the Board, Administrators, and the district.  I can only wonder where Cogelja was to stamp her feet and scream from the roof tops when Thom Ammirato left Hackensack's employ under an agreement for non prosecution from BCPO.  Well, that was different I guess.... that was a Labrosse supported hire!

Other Hackensack coverage?  Plenty of press releases and feel good stories about splash parks, banning marijuana sales, etc.  No reporting of the $500,000 settlement for Dave Sims and Leo Battaglia's antics, no coverage of the council (4 of 5) facing massive fines for alleged violations of election laws, no mention of the council strong arming every collective bargaining unit through contract negotiations on multi-year expired contracts, no mention of the city cutting man power of the police officers on the road while we have had an increase in burglaries in the 5th ward, car break ins, and a shooting on First Street. 

Does that look like "objective" coverage? Or does it look like coverage that was intentionally one-sided in nature and served to prop up candidates running with the support of Labrosse's council?

I contacted Knitzer by phone this evening prior to publishing this story.  When asked if he worked for Visions Media he hung up the phone.  I called Knitzer back and left a voicemail message asking him if he could explain to me how he manages the inherent conflict of interest when objectively covering news for the City of Hackensack while simultaneously working for the City's public relations consulting firm.  I have not received a return phone call.  I assume that Knitzer declines to comment.

Is Labrosse and company indirectly receiving campaign promotional materials and media coverage financed by a City vendor?  Is TAPinto Hackensack really "objective?"  Know your source..... 

1 comment:

  1. And not a single article on the possibility of a State Monitor, which would be disastrous to the distrct. Why? Maybe because there is no way to spin it away from it being blamed on the no votes or no shows, who are "Labrosse people"