Sunday, October 21, 2018

The irony about The Palm Beach Post and Mr. Ben Kerr: City of Lake Worth’s épée and public information officer.

And below is the latest news about the Post’s “new look”, print subscription numbers continue to dwindle but the online numbers are way up.

And what’s not explained below. But you can draw your own conclusions.

Why did the news reporting in the Post about Brightline change so dramatically around the early part of May this year? Much more positive news reporting about high-speed passenger rail on the Florida East Coast (FEC) railway which stands in dark contrast to the pessimistic and negative reporting — and including all those naysayers who wrote all those letters that got published on the editorial page — all that stuff that got published going all the way back to 2014?

But last May something happened and it’s all different now.

But once again, please, draw your own conclusions. Other than Cox Media no longer being the owner of the Post not much has fundamentally changed. Or has it?

Without further ado. . .

Below is a blog post from last Tuesday and a short update follows including the irony about Mr. Kerr and the County’s paper of record.

So. What’s happened since that dumb decision by the editor(s) last Monday?

Well, actually, quite a lot. And a lot of
really good stuff too.

Kudos to GateHouse Media. This week they gave the print edition of the Post a new look and the revamped online edition is just downright spectacular. Think it was Tuesday or Wednesday the online edition was reworked. There were some hiccups for a day or two and those were worked out. If you haven’t checked out the online edition yet you really should give it a look and will explain some of those new features later on.

But mostly all this new stuff is just lipstick on a pig until an entirely new editorial board and top management team comes along which could happen very soon.

As far as the City of Lake Worth goes the mood is this City needs a young female reporter with a fresh new perspective. No disrespect to one of the top reporters at the Post, Joe Capozzi. The banner headline today on page A1 above the masthead is this news from Capozzi:

“Swordsman who trained ‘Game of Thrones’ extras teaches broadsword in Lake Worth”

Of course this story is about the City of Lake Worth’s PIO, Mr. Ben Kerr.

The irony is this: The position of public information officer in this City did not exist prior to beat reporter Kevin Thompson’s hit piece on Code Enforcement back in September 2016.

Because of Thompson’s “egregious” news reporting City Manager Michael Bornstein was forced to do something and he did it. He went out looking for an official City spokesperson but the first one, well, let’s just say it didn’t work out.

You see, when issuing a press release about the Sober Home Epidemic you cannot always rely on spellcheck. There is a very big difference between the words “heroin” and “heroine”. And that particular press release was included in each and every utility bill sent out that month by this City.


So the position of PIO went unfilled for a little while. And then came along a young man named Ben Kerr and the rest is history as they say.

So one can say now that Thompson actually did this City a big favor with that ‘news’ about Code Enforcement two years ago. And we continue to wait for that update about the PBSO merge with the Greenacres PD which was real actual news that made the paper a long time ago.

The other irony is, maybe as punishment for voting the wrong way, the Post pulled Thompson from the Greenacres beat after their elected leaders decided to merge with PBSO in 2015. Then shortly afterward the editor(s) began the weekly every-single-Monday Lake Worth Very Very Special Monday Collector Print Edition (LWVVSMCPE) and snubbed the City of Greenacres.

The point is this. . .

The editor(s) at the Post may try and lay claim to the City of Lake Worth’s great success since 2015. But how do they explain the great successes and strides in the City of Greenacres? It’s sort of a conundrum for a paper that claims “REAL NEWS STARTS HERE” when Greenacres is defying everyone’s expectations and even the Village of Wellington is worried about Greenacres stealing their super-magical-mojo and the whole time the editor(s) were AWOL in Greenacres’ City Hall.

But anyhow. . .

Do have something to say to the editor(s) at the Post? Maybe in response to that ridiculously dumb front page about ‘zombies’ this week?

The big story about Code Enforcement in this City of Lake Worth has still gone unreported in the Post but that ‘Zombie Alert’ is still being used to try and sell more papers. However, the news about Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was pushed to page A3 in last Monday’s paper, pushed off the front page by news about fake dead people. A terrible decision.

What to do about this?

Write your letter to editor(s) and tell them what you think about that front page. The instructions how to write a letter are below. And the good news is it only takes about 5–10 minutes to submit a Letter to the Editor.

And please. Give the new owner and management team at The Palm Beach Post a chance to make their mark in Palm Beach County.

Cox Media, the former owner of Post put that newspaper up For-Sale in November 2017. The present owner of the Post, as of May 1st, is taking more control and you’ll learn more about that below.

And hopefully a new editor and reshuffling of the upper management team will be in the offing. The Post was in trouble a long time ago, way before they were put on the market for a buyer. When three years ago the Post narrowed their focus to just certain municipalities and stopped reporting about other local governments, e.g., the City of Greenacres, that eroded their community support. The decision not to make an endorsement in the 2016 race for President of the United States was the worst editorial decision of all followed closely by their dragging of feet to cover the devastating situation of so-called ‘sober homes’ creating so much disruption and public angst in places like this City of Lake Worth.

And the editor back then is still the editor now. Unbelievable.

Now to the latest developments. . .

Last Tuesday on the front page of the print edition, below the fold, was a notice from publisher Timothy D. Burke announcing, “Welcome to The Post’s new look” and includes this paragraph:

“These changes are all part of our transition into the family of products [emphasis added] following The Post’s change in ownership this year.”

And here is more news about the Post from journalist Dan Christensen at the Florida Bulldog, headlined “Newspaper sales in Florida are eroding faster than the national average”. Two excerpts:

The Post reported seven-day newspaper circulation for 2017 was 58,723. Sales fell 11 percent to 52,130 in 2018.

and. . .

GateHouse’s ongoing consolidation of Florida newspapers using Fortress’s funds has implications for both editorial policies and news coverage.

For example, Fortress is the parent company of Florida East Coast Railway and All Aboard Florida, which operates the Brightline passenger service that currently runs between Miami and West Palm Beach. Another subsidiary is New Fortress Energy, which operates a natural gas liquification plant in the Hialeah Rail Yard in Medley.

If you happen to be one of the few who haven’t heard the news, Gatehouse Media is the new owner of the Post and Palm Beach Daily News (aka, The Shiny Sheet). The sale was completed on May 1st. However, the offices on 2751 S. Dixie Hwy. in West Palm Beach were not part of the sale which is good news for beat, breaking news, and weather reporters especially during Hurricane Season.

That structure, unfortunately, was unavailable to Post employees for Hurricane Irma last year but has been used as a storm shelter in the past, e.g., for hurricanes Matthew, Frances and Jeanne.

Next week, on November 1st, will mark six months of ownership by Gatehouse and typically when they make big changes at a newly-acquired newspaper.

And hopefully those changes will reach to the editorial board. Another stupid letter about this City of Lake Worth got published again this week in the Post. And by the very same person. Sad. 

Have you been thinking about writing a LTE?
Have something on your mind.

Find out those tips below. But first. . .

How to write a LTE:

  • Keep your LTE to 150–200 words in length. The “shorter the better” is a good rule.
  • An LTE submitted by email (see contact information below) is the best method and remember to include your phone number and complete address.
  • Engage like-minded “average citizens” to write LTEs on the same subject.
  • Listing your credentials will help greatly; then always follow up your LTE!

This is the trick!

  • Follow up your LTE with an email or fax later that day or the next morning.
  • Then later, call or contact the editorial department and explain why your letter is important.
  • Don’t be timid! Stay pleasant and respectful but make a strong pitch.
  • To seal the deal, just ask outright, “Are you planning to publish my letter?”.

So get cracking and have your LTE published in
the Post, maybe even in next week’s Sunday paper:

  • Email:
  • Fax: 561-820-4728
  • Phone: 561-820-4441

Using snail mail:

Palm Beach Post
ATTN: Letter to Editor (LTE)
2751 S. Dixie Highway
West Palm Beach, FL 33405

Write your LTE today and Good Luck everyone!

And a reminder. Go and check out the Post’s all-new online page.