AT LB POST, JOURNALISM IS A STAFF BYLINE ON AN ADVERTISERS’ PROMOBy Greggory Moore
Editor’s note: Over the years that Greggory Moore was a staff writer for the Long Beach Post—the online (except for a monthly print edition) information outlet co-owned by City Council member (and mayoral candidate) Robert Garcia—he observed numerous occasions when the publication passed off press releases as Post-generated stories, with no mention of the source of information … at times, when that source was a Post advertiser. Moore, formerly of The District Weekly and currently a theatre and film critic for GreaterLongBeach.com, left the Post on June 28—a personnel move executed by Garcia. In a July 17 story written for Random Lengths (and given wide distribution by Gawker.com), Moore chronicled the Post’s deceptive practices.
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In February 2011, LBReport.com ran a laconic news item entitled “Echo Chamber?” consisting of little more than a side-by-side comparison of a Long Beach Post news story with a press release from state Sen. Alan Lowenthal’s office. Save for the shuffling around of a half-dozen words in the opening paragraph, the story was a verbatim transcription of the press release. But the story had a Post byline and failed to mention Lowenthal’s office as the source of the story.
Six months later, LBReport.com published a similar side-by-side comparison, this time between a City of Long Beach press release and a Post story that, save for the reshuffling of about 10 words, was a verbatim transcription of the release, again with a Post byline and no mention of the original source.
Since that time, on numerous occasions—including within the last week (preceding this story’s original publication on July 17—the Post published press releases as Post-generated stories, typically with the byline “Staff Reports” and with no mention of the source of the information. For example, on April 30, 2012, the Post published a story entitled “LBCC Knocks Compton Out of the Park,” which, aside from the title, was a verbatim transcription of a Long Beach City College press release.
By far the most frequent source of such stories has been MemorialCare Health System, a Post advertiser whose facilities include Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach. For years the Post published MemorialCare press releases under the byline “Staff Reports” at the rate of one to two per week. In June, for example, the Post ran eight improperly attributed MemorialCare press releases, in most cases verbatim.
Thus far in July the Post has run four such stories, the most recent example being a July 12 story, “Local Non-Profit Donates 2,000 Children’s Books, Brings Best-Selling Author to Miller Children’s Hospital,” which is a verbatim reprint of a MemorialCare press release published by EverythingLongBeach.com on June 14.
This was not the first time the Post published a press release first appearing on EverythingLongBeach.com. For example, on March 21 the Post published a verbatim transcription of a press release that EverythingLongBeach.com posted three days earlier covering Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez visiting Miller Children’s Hospital.
CONTINUE READING THE STORY IN RANDOM LENGTHS