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A Model for Lancaster County (Commentary)

Nov 7th, 2014 | By | Category: Features, Front Page

Visit the website of the Richmond Standard and you will see it is devoted to community-driven news. It says so on the top of the page (1).

Richmond, a small city near San Francisco, is blessed to have a newspaper covering issues of local interest. But the Richmond Standard is not an ordinary newspaper. It is funded by oil giant Chevron, a fact made clear on the website. In fact, a tab on the navigation menu takes you to a page dealing solely with Chevron. A recent article dealt with how a local Chevron project was being unfairly covered in the media. “A story recently aired by KPIX 5 San Francisco,” it said,“painted an inaccurate picture of Chevron Richmond’s modernization project.” Worse, they used “misleading and inflammatory language” to describe the proposed $1 billion investment.

The Richmond Standard seeks to provide balance. It covers local issues of a more mundane nature, to be sure, but it does not wish to neglect painting a favorable picture of Chevron’s activities. This may requiretreating environmental groups harshly or taking city officials to task for raising uncomfortable questions, but that is a small price to pay for ensuring that the multinational giant is not being unfairly maligned. Chevron’s good deeds—and they are all good, in the newspaper—need to be given proper public hearing. Because, otherwise, you know, death of capitalism.

Could this model be applied to Lancaster County?

Take the case of Williams Partners, a Tulsa-based companythat “wants to build a 50-foot-wide pipeline right of way through 35 miles of Lancaster County, involving seven townships, to get cheaper natural gas drilled in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania to Eastern Seaboard and foreign markets. (2)”

But some residents are not happy about the project, fearing, among other things, loss of property via eminent domain and environmental damage.

Williams should take a leaf from Chevron’s playbook. What they need is a local community-news driven website that will be careful to publish only favorable stories about the pipeline project and to refute any negative coverage of the company in the media. A digital newspaper run by a compliant editor is what is called for.

If only the editors of EJ were susceptible to financial blandishments.

(1)  (2)


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