Daily Herald wrong target for 'newspaper' critics
Last updated 9/28/2022 at 4:32pm | View PDF
So let me get this straight.
A group called Local Government Information Services - linked to conservative Republican Dan Proft - decides to print what is essentially campaign advertisements disguised as a newspaper. The Daily Herald in Arlington Heights, whose press does commercial jobs in addition to printing its own paper, prints the piece. And now the Daily Herald and its owner, Paddock Publications, are the bad guys?
Let me be clear. I am not a fan of what I would consider to be a true example of "fake news." But I don't think the company that printed it should be first on the list of those we blame.
I fear I might stand alone in this opinion.
Crain's Chicago Business ran an editorial Monday, saying that printing these "newspapers" and distributing them using a postage permit registered to Paddock makes the Daily Herald responsible for what they say.
"Actually, producing and apparently providing postage for this stuff is pretty much the definition of promoting this message," the editorial states.
I don't know the legalities of how a postal permit can be used, seeing as we don't have one, but I can guarantee you Paddock charged for the printing - and the distribution. This was a paid commercial printing job. Nothing more, nothing less.
Printing a single newspaper - even if it's published seven days a week - doesn't generate enough money to keep a printing press running. Our printer publishes more than 100 different publications each week.
Do they evaluate the content of each of these to make sure their clients are practicing sound journalism? Of course not. And I don't know how they'd check the ones that are printed in other languages, unless they hired a team of translators.
The Illinois Times went after the Daily Herald, too, saying the paper "lost an incalculable amount of respect for its integrity that it may never regain because of its active participation in a tsunami of viral disinformation during dangerous times."
Besides being overwritten, that statement is ridiculous in my opinion. A prime example of cancel culture - do something we don't like once and we will despise you for eternity.
Here's my question - why isn't anyone writing an editorial about the folks who put this fake newspaper together? Why aren't writers blasting them for trying to trick readers into believing they contained actual news?
And why aren't we more upset that this tactic is believed to be effective? Why aren't we more concerned that so many have forgotten what real news actually is? Instead of slamming the Daily Herald, why aren't other papers calling for more news literacy programs to help teach students how to know if what they're reading is actual news or something else?
I'd love to say that if Jim Slonoff and I owned a printing press and were approached about printing these publications, we would turn them down without hesitation. I also know that if the revenue would boost our bottom line during a tough year, we might not be able to afford to stand on principle.
And the bottom line is people have a right to publish what they want to publish.
Let's face it. We don't want to start deciding what can and can't be printed on newsprint. It won't end well.
- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].