I finally obtained a copy of last week’s Lakeville Journal and nearly spilled my coffee looking at the front page.
First of all, let me say that I worked for the company for almost 10 years and still contribute as an op-ed columnist. I have tremendous respect for executive editor Cynthia Hochswender and publisher Janet Manko.
Now perhaps they could answer a question for me. Why on earth did they publish a lead story — top right and above-the-fold — about the new bio-mass heating system at Hotchkiss School that was literally written by the Hotchkiss communications office?
No, we’re not talking about a story based on a press release from Hotchkiss but the actual reprinting of the press release — apparently word-for-word — featuring extended quotes from Hotchkiss officials about how wonderful the new facility is. Mercifully, the piece is labelled as “guest commentary.”
Still, it would be one thing to publish a scaled-down version of that release somewhere inside — perhaps on the Salisbury page. But to take up the most valuable real estate in the paper with what amounts to a propaganda piece written by PR people simply defies explanation.
And I have nothing against Hotchkiss either. I count several faculty and staff members as friends, including communications director Roberta Jencks, whose byline is on the piece. And the new heating system does make for an interesting story.
Now, for those who think no one cares about this, then why not go a little further and let the first selectman write an article on what happened at the BOS meeting, or the board of education president write a front-page piece about budget deliberations?
I understand that all newspapers are suffering from declining revenues and have had to cut staff accordingly. But if you think the bio-mass boiler is important enough to merit placement as the lead story for the week, then isn’t it worth assigning a reporter to write the story? Just asking …
P.S. Feeding into my previous posts about administrative bloat in colleges, take a look at the list of administrators at Hotchkiss. With only a pair of exceptions, it looks reasonable. But is it really necessary to have two assistant heads of school (presumably making in the six-figures), one for environmental initiatives and the other for global initiatives? Not department heads, mind you, but assistant heads of school. Oh well, it’s not my money …