Monday, October 27, 2008


Yes It's true! Miss Vero has invited a guest blogger today, who you may or may not know. Perhaps, y'all might disagree with him or cheer him on while you're reading. One thing is for sure, he's got a whole lot of local media history to share, which explains some of why VeroBeach is in the"dead zone" when it comes to news coverage.

But before we get to that, Miss Vero wants to make sure that y'all got a chance to read Mr. Jose Lambiet's report of Mrs. Gloria Estefan's show last Saturday night. Y'all remember the one that will benefit educational programs in Indian River as well as, other counties? Well kids, for a reminder see our August 10th post "Jilted Lemmon":

Last Monday we wondered about the new Connie Francis bio film starring Mrs. Estefan. Well, Mr. Lambiet's report from the Palm Beach Post, not only gives us a little more movie info, but dishes on the concert too. Interesting comments after the report and doesn't his new page look fabulous?:


We might not agree on every issue, but Miss Vero is sincerely delighted to post his opinion with out censorship. Please welcome Mr. Max Newport:

-Max Newport

Progress has not been kind to Vero Beach in the area of local news coverage. With all of the advances in media technology and means of communication, we are unfortunately in an abyss where the local news is defined by one outlet, and that of course is the Press Journal. You have to appreciate what Channel 10 is trying to do; if you can figure out what it is they are trying to do. It takes a very patient person to sit through the PowerPoint graphics and then try to figure out what they are trying to say. I am not that person.

In Vero Beach, local news is what the Press Journal says it is. In other words, if it is not in their paper, it is simply not news. This has really dumbed down the citizens of this community in the area of local current events.

We are sort of in a twilight zone of media coverage. Every now and then a Palm Beach television reporter will come up to get some footage of Ira Hatch waddling out of a holding cell but beyond a major tragedy, the numbers just aren’t here for coverage by the major outlets. This leaves us with the Press Journal.

It hasn’t always been that way.

A sure sign of approaching geezerhood is looking back fondly on the good old days and saying how much better things were then than they are now, but sadly in the area of local news coverage, that is very true. Let’s borrow a phrase from soul singer Tyrone Davis and “turn back the hands of time” thirty years or so.

Vero Beach in the 1970’s actually had a press corps. It was common to see six or seven reporters at a city council or county commission meeting or even at a meeting of the hospital board of trustees. This was before all of the meetings were televised so that folks like Brian Heady could set their VCR’s to watch their brilliant tutorials on constitutional law to the elected officials.

We had the Miami Herald with two reporters led by the legendary Phil Long. The Today newspaper had a full time staff of three reporters, one being the outstanding Georgia Curry. The Palm Beach Post and the Orlando Sentinel each had a fully staffed bureau in Vero Beach. Channel 34, WTVX, did two half hour newscasts daily with Vero Beach and Fort Pierce news. Three radio stations had full time news divisions, WTTB, WAXE and WGYL. There was also the Press Journal, which was published twice a week and focused on local news. If you wanted to know who was in the hospital, and why, it was in the Press Journal. Most folks bought the Press Journal strictly for local news and also subscribed to another newspaper for daily coverage.

There were unofficial coalitions. The Press Journal owned WTTB, so they naturally worked together and shared stories. WAXE worked with Today. Phil Long with the Herald and Pete Noel at WGYL were the Vero Beach version of Woodward and Bernstein. There was competition amongst the reporters to get the story and to get it first . . . and get it right. When the Press Journal went daily, people started cancelling their subscriptions to other newspapers causing the local bureaus to close. WTVX was sold and became a Palm Beach station. The Vero Beach radio stations, which were loca lly owned, were sold to media groups where Indian River County news was not a priority.

Local news coverage went downhill to what we have today; the Press Journal. Radio news is limited to Neal Stannard reading TCPalm stories at the bottom of the hour on WTTB. Neal, God bless him, has been part of the radio scene for decades and is a talent that is very much underappreciated.

If Max Newport was a drinking man, and he is not, a toast to Neal would be offered at this point.
The media picture in 2008 is bleak. The Press Journal, with all of their self-proclaimed opinion of journalistic professionalism, is extremely lame. Georgia Curry, who I mentioned earlier, would be able to produce all of the original news copy for the paper and still have time to help her kids with their homework before hitting the sack, and it would be accurate and highly readable. Sadly, Georgia died at a very young age in 1977 from a rare blood disorder. Anyone who was fortunate enough to know her will remember that she was one of a kind both personally and professionally (and truly missed).

Without any viable competition, the Press Journal has become complacent and the prime example of this “we’re the only news outlet in town and we don’t care” attitude is the “columnist” Russ Lemmon. You know Russ, he is the guy you see walking around town that looks like he needs a job. I’m sure Russ is a nice guy (well I don’t know him so I am not sure but he probably is), but he has lowered the IQ of anyone who relies exclusively on the Press Journal for local news by at least ten points. He came to Vero with a chip on his shoulder about how mean everyone is and has gone downhill since. I’m not sure why the Press Journal saw a need for his type of writing, but whatever it is he is doing . . . and he is right up there with Channel 10, belongs on the opinion page. I will say, in his favor, that he wrote an article in last Saturday’s paper about the baseball Grapefruit League that was actually quite good.

Initially, there are three things that have irritated me regarding his recent writings that deserve attention. There are probably more, but I will focus on three.

1. The Sebastian Soccer Team School Bus Attempted Rape.

Russ wrote an article claiming the suspension of the remainder of the season was too severe of a punishment for what happened on the school bus. The problem was that Russ didn’t know what happened on the school bus but chose to criticize the school officials, who did know, anyway. When he did find out how serious the incident was, he writes a couple of sentences that he stands by his opinion that sports are good. Basically he responded that the facts be damned. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it. He could have gained some credibility if he had just admitted that he wrote his diatribe without knowing the facts of the story and had he known the severity of the allegations, maybe second guessing the school’s decision wasn’t such a good idea. Max, by the way, did provide a comment on TCPalm expressing those feelings which was promptly deleted by Russ and company.

Sometimes saying that you screwed up is the right thing to do.

2. This Whole Kay Clem Thing.

Good God!!! This is a man on a mission and it is so obvious. It became clear when he typed his first article about Cathy Hart being fired that he despised Kay Clem and was clearly in the Cathy Hart corner. Such blatant biased writing is simply unprofessional and does not belong on the news page. I’m not sure such personal attacks belong even on the opinion page. One thing about Russ, he is certainly transparent when it comes to Kay Clem. He is freaking obsessed with her.

Once again he has a “facts be damned” attitude when it comes to her.

A shining example, one of many, is his writing of a “shopping spree” on November 30, 2006. He painted a picture of Kay Clem hurling credit cards like Frisbees at cashiers in an Orlando mall while her poor employees were slaving away at the elections office working their fingers to the bone while severely understaffed.

Max Newport is not a professional journalist like Mr. Lemmon, but this concerned me to the point that I actually made a phone call. Russ could have made that phone call but didn’t because it didn’t fit his agenda. Max called 567-8000 after the “story” was printed and found out within minutes that the Supervisor of Elections office was closed on November 30, 2006.

That’s right. No one was working in the elections office that day.

They weren’t having a kegger on the beach. The county had closed the office to move furniture and equipment from the old location to the current one. Shouldn’t that be something that a responsible reporter would have included in the article?

It appears that his obsession with Kay Clem, which borders on mental illness, does not include an obsession with the facts. What I see is an indifference to the truth.

3. Lemmon Drops

It seems that when Russ has nothing to write about he produces these nuggets “to nibble on” while we are waiting for intergalactic canine communication or something equally inane. So we are supposed to nibble and wait.

The Lemmon Drops themselves have kind of a Larry King meets Captain Kangaroo quality. Larry King once had a weekly column in USA Today that was brilliant in comparison to what the Press Journal sees as publishable.

If you don’t remember King’s column, it was a stream of consciousness style of prose that took him about an hour to write (the full hour Larry?). Larry would say something like:

“For my money, Richard Dreyfuss is the finest American actor in the business today. . .”

“Call me old fashioned, but on a hot day nothing beats a frosty mug of root beer. . .”

“Robin Williams? One word. Funny . . .”

Those aren’t actual quotes but you get the idea.

Russ wants us to nibble and wait. My confectionery knowledge is limited but from what I recall his corollary is a hard piece of candy that would do some real damage to the teeth. A devoted Russ reader would be not only stupid, but toothless as well. What Russ is really saying is “Suck on this until I find something to write about”.

It is sad for someone, who received his first ever paycheck from the Press Journal, to see this level of journalistic deterioration. And it’s not just Russ; he is just such a simple target. It is frustrating to have a single news source and have it at the level the Press Journal has become.

If there is a Press Journal in Heaven (and you know it can’t be Heaven without it), Georgia Curry is laughing.

Thank you Max!



Jethro Bovine said...

Miz V,

Sounds like Max don't like Lemmon Droppin's. Does Max really expect "journalism" from our local fish wrapper? (Don't actually wrap fish in it y'all. It would give the fish a bad smell.)

Congrats to Max on a fine debut as a Beach House guest columnist.


Anonymous said...

Touche` , Mr. Newport. Thank you, Miss Vero.

BlessUrHeart said...

It seems doubtful that anyone could contradict Mr. Newport -- thank you, Max, for a solid run-down of journalistic history [such as it is]. The recent addition of sour lemmon to that sorry state only proves the point that downhill is the only direction they know.

Without competition, and I don't see any real competition in newspaper format since the other papers in this town don't do unbiased reporting either, it shall remain so. Once someone here has the power of the paper in hand, they can't resist printing their own distorted versions of "news" and ignore things they don't like.

We have a sort of wiki-news thing going on here in the Beach House, a kind of clearinghouse for the most egregious errors, but that does not replace a real newspaper, nor should it. When you read the PB Post or the Miami Herald, it's like a breath of fresh air blowing into stagnant backwaters. NEWS!

Money may be [IS] a problem for newspapers, but I know many people who don't subscribe because the quality is so lacking. If they've discovered that this is the only road to follow in order to continue sinking, but less slowly, into the muck, there is no hope. Go back to 3 days a week!

And Max, you don't drink, darlin? Well, we could use a designated driver coming back fromt the Beach House. The PJ only contributes to my need to visit often, and linger among the pretty-colored containers wondering which will numb with the greatest speed. It's better to have a bottle in front of me . . .

virtual vero said...

Well, that was refreshing. While I don't necessarily share your take on local politics (i.e. "Bring it on" Clem), I always enjoy reading your posts and considering your perspective, Max.

I have let my subscription to the Press Journal lapse because of Russ Lemmon. It is the only way I have to voice my objection to his heartless form of vampirism. He cares so little for what he leaves in his wake, since this is not his home nor chances are will it ever be. His aim is simply to incite the base emotions of his readers and watch the dazed and confused citizens who no longer know which way is up scramble in a blood thirsty frenzy.

In fact, the whole TCPalm website may have that same aim. Maybe I have it wrong, and that's the way to sell advertising.

Recently, I have become increasingly fond of Ray McNulty, who does indeed have heart. And an adept writing skill. While he does go on and on about some issues, never changing up his writing style so that eventually it grates (kind of like having your arm rubbed by a loved one for too long, so it feels like they're wearing a hole in your skin), he's insightful, well researched and cares about this little town on the sea.

I hope you become a regular fixture on this site, give Miss Vero a break to keep up with her hectic drinking schedule. Speaking of which, I'll toast to Neal Stannard for you.


fairy delilah said...

Miss Vero,
Can you organize one of these for us?

Mwah to you, too.

Miss B. Havior said...

Oh fairy delilah, you bare witness to us all!
As the good witch Glenda told Dorothy,” if you're looking for your hearts desire, look no farther than your own back yard.”
My first nude protest was in Palm Beach County, 2003.

Peace activists bare all on beach By Mark Pollio staff writer February 15, 2003

PALM BEACH COUNTY -- Unarmed and unclothed, a nudist group twisted their naked bodies into a peace sign and heart on a local beach Friday.

The event, organized by Fort Pierce resident Toni Anne "T.A." Wyner, was designed to protest the potential war with Iraq and celebrate Valentine's Day. The clothes came off of two dozen people at 11 a.m. at the John D. MacArthur State Park in North Palm Beach.

T.A. is still here on the treasure coast and is a “slow food organizer.”
slow food

So what ya’ say Mizz Vero? Learn to harmonize or take our clothes off on the beach?

Save the TaTa’s

BlessUrHeart said...

ah, back to ta-tas and nudity -- what is a beach house without all that! do you think if we got naked and formed some word on the beach, the PJ would cover it?

See how I got the subject back to news and such? boobs, lemmon, you could go on and on!

Anonymous said...

It seems pretty obvious Max Newport is Kay Clem's husband or "mantress" :-O

BlessUrHeart said...

Ya know, I don't think Chester has the internet savvy to be blogging. Clem just has some loyal friends who will ignore any real faults in order for their friend to keep her office. But then there are her friends, or Chester's friends, who went about running the muck on Coleman Stewart in the paper. A whole 'nother talent. It's the florida republican way, these days.