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Gannett Makes a Deal With the Devils

A media co-conspirator sent along this nugget this morning. Thanks to him -- and it -- I will forgo my second cup of coffee. My blood's already at a proper boil.

So the Gannett newspapers in New Jersey have decided it prudent to use an employee of the New Jersey Devils to cover the National Hockey League team for their newspapers.

Go ahead, read that again ...

Holy cow. Wait, let me say that again with some real meaning this time: HOLY COW!

The reason for this dirty decision shouldn't be important, but I'll give it to you anyway.

Basically, the Devils, concerned they weren't getting the coverage they wanted in the Garden State, and more specifically in central Jersey, made the staff-challenged Gannett papers in that area an offer they should have refused.

Out of the kindness of their devilish little hearts, the team made the guy who 'covers' the team for its website, Eric Marin, available for the same purpose to the Gannett papers.

Why those little Devils ...

Instead of politely laughing, and saying thanks, but no thanks, Gannett just left it at, thanks.

And here was its reasoning, according to the New York Times story:

"As long as it served our readers and we told them where that content was coming from, the readers were fine with it," said Hollis Towns, executive editor of The Asbury Park Press, the largest of the state's six Gannett papers. "I think journalists get hung up on certain lines of what's ethical more than the readers."

Bluntly, Mr. Towns, with so many good print journalists on the street looking for jobs, it's a wonder you are keeping yours.

Journalists get hung up on certain lines of what's ethical more than the readers?!

Yeah, and cops get hung up over laws more than most citizens, and firefighters get hung up over fire safety more than most people, and doctors get hung up over preventive care more than most patients ...

I'm really not sure who should be more offended by Towns' fire-able offense -- the journalists at his papers who damn well better be steeped in ethics, or the readers who are allegedly just fine with this cozy arrangement.

This decision crosses so many lines, its a wonder Towns doesn't trip over them on the way to his office each day.

According to the story, Towns assures his readers that if the Devils are involved in some kind of controversy, the paper won't run an article about it that is produced from the team's very own flak.

Just one question, Mr. Towns: How is it you'll know about any controversy surrounding the Devils, given the guy 'covering' the team is being paid by the team?

Since it's safe to say you haven't really thought your way through this one, I'll tell you that almost certainly this information will come from one of your competitors, who are keeping their reporters on their own payroll. And won't that get even more embarrassing -- if possible?

Gannett needs to call this, and any arrangements like it, off immediately.

If this is what print journalism is becoming in some places then, please, somebody just stop the presses, already.

(Got a tip, a gripe, or some kudos? Send 'em along.)