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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

L.A. Parker, irresponsible shill (update)

Trentonian reporter L.A. Parker needs to have his head examined.

Today he wrote what appeared to be an objective news piece stating that anonymous sources say Police Director Joseph Santiago, who was ousted by the courts for violating the city's residency law, is moving back to the City of Trenton.

Mr. Santiago's residency issues, the ensuing court battle, the suddenly resurgent group of City Council members standing up to Mr. Santiago and his supporter, Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer, have all dominated the city's newspaper pages and power structure for months.

To write an article declaring to thousands of readers that Mr. Santiago has suddenly decided to move into Trenton based on statements from anonymous sources - something that Mr. Santiago and other Trenton officials refused to confirm today - is simply irresponsible. It demonstrates to the readers of the Trentonian what little respect Mr. Parker has for them.

This whole residency issue has become an important citywide issue, and it deserves more than a cursory treatment that could be expected from a sixth-grader taking a journalism class, rather than an "Award-winning" writer.

The residency debate has brought up many important questions for Trenton: whether people who work for the city should have to live here to take part in the community; about whether or not Mayor Palmer is a big, fat hypocrite for saying he wanted to have a civilian director-led police department because the director would have to live here and then allowing Mr. Santiago to openly and flagrantly break the law; and about what kind of city government this is, that fires some low-ranking employees for violating residency yet allows employees like Mr. Santiago, of questionable value and dubious intentions, to openly break the same law.

The importance of these issues mean that any piece of journalism detailing such an important event as Mr. Santiago deciding to move here and join the city needs to be well-researched and evenhanded.

But Mr. Parker's article fails to do either of those things.

Also, it does nothing to inform the readership about the legality of such a move, given the language of the decision and the fact that Mr. Santiago's family would have to move into the city to legally comply with residency.

Mr. Parker did not seek out what Mr. Santiago's opponents in the residency battle plan on doing in response to the move, and for some odd reason a different Trentonian reporter was tasked with this.

That assignment, made to the Trentonian's Joe D'Aquila, basically amounted to seeking out opponents of Mr. Santiago and the mayor, on council and in the populace, and asking them to detail what their reaction would be, to what amounts to unsubstantiated rumor.

As Councilman Jim Coston and Old Mill Hill have correctly assessed, this appears to be Mr. Parker using himself as a tool to "feel out" Mayor Palmer and Mr. Santiago's enemies, free of charge.

It seems that according to Mr. Parker, the Trentonian's core readership - which is overwhelmingly concentrated in Trenton itself - is a group of idiots that should simply accept unsubstantiated statements about a significant city issue.

Mr. Parker's unreasonable expectation of acceptance comes despite the preponderance of evidence that points to the fact that he has developed a cozy relationship with Mayor Palmer and the mayor's administration, which has become detrimental to his objectivity, his devotion to fact-based stories, and his effective execution of his profession.

Sure, other writers at the paper sometimes use anonymous sources, but their reasons are clear and make the usage appropriate. Those stories are about the questionable goings-on in the Trenton Police Department, where information attributed to an officer could result in relegation to midnight duty or other pain and suffering.

Reporters, when writing objective news pieces in a newspaper, should stick to the facts and then verify them, and put forth the effort necessary to prevent unsubstantiated rumor from entering into the minds of the public.

L.A. Parker - this lie-spreading, fear-mongering Ewing resident - needs to be released from the Trentonian staff, so Trenton's residents can consider all of the facts in important city issues, without being forced to consume all of the spin or calculated political action entering Mr. Parker's personal decisions about what to write and how to write it.

Also, maybe then the paper's other writers could do their work without having their reputations constantly sullied by the politically-tainted stories of Mr. Parker's, which so often seem more fitting of a politician's publicist, rather than a fact-writing journalist.


Old Mill Hill said...

Differentiating between L.A. Parker,columnist, and L.A. Parker reporter is one of the problems here.

As a columnist, L.A. has the right to espouse opinion...preferably opinion grounded in fact not rumor and innuendo.

As a reporter, he should adhere to the basic tenants of reporting factual information and contacting parties on all sides of an issue.

I could be wrong, but this morning's piece (as many before) are presented as reported stories rather than columns. As such, he would fail my journalism class.

That the management of the Trentonian allows this to occur is also a shame.

westwrdguy57 said...

Parker's is a unobjective account and a deliberate distortion of the facts concerning this entire Santiago ordeal. I notice in many of his stories Mr Parker does not accurately disclose the sources of information he imparts to the readers and seems to rely a lot on personal opinion. He is being unfair to the people by not divulging at least a reasonably accurate account of the true facts (not what he conjures up) and sources he uses for the information in his columns. Unbalanced reporting as this is, especially in such a high profile case, only causes confusion among the people and a biased viewpoint.

In journalism circles he has broken at least a couple of the codes of ethics. He could expiate all this confusion in a way we all understand as to just whom he is seeking to appease is his columns. Could 2 persons he appeases be the mayor and Santiago? I think yes.

He comes across as confusing by mentioning the word "sources" 3 different times in today's write up, but no hint as to whom exactly these sources are who know so much about what Santiago is planning to do.

Santiago was quoted as saying he wants to leave on his own terms and not be "forced out." Well, he already has been "forced out" of at least 2 other jobs and not on his terms. He's another power hungry official with some serious mind issues. Civilian police directors are not even allowed to perform any of law enforcement's duties. Mayor Palmer must feel he has to have control over everyone in the city. I think at times he thinks this city belongs to him. He steps on anyone's toes who questions his authority around here in the least.

Other cities and towns around the country don't have any civilian police directors, so why is it so important we have one here? If there ever arose a need, and I don't see why, for a little civilian oversight of the police, then let it be a group of citizen volunteers, whose duty might be to make some suggestions or bring ideas to the table for change. Who knows better than the citizens what, if any, changes need to be made? We live it and Santiago never has. As bad as things are finacially in this city, why create some unecessary position with another 6 figure salary to go with it. This is all about the mayor and his insatiable appetite for power and control.

I will be happy to see Santiago forced out of a job once again and out of here for good. He should be honorable for once in his life and do us all a favor by quitting right now.

westwrdguy57 said...

Who needs a civilian police director anyway. Just another waste of dollars