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‘Yellow journalism’ in Nevada?

On Tuesday’s episode of Nevada Newsmakers, former university regent Howard Rosenberg was asked about recent criticism of Chancellor Dan Klaich.

After a few comments in defense of the university chancellor, who has been under fire recently, Rosenberg turned to what he sees as the problem.

Rosenberg, Howard on NN

“What really bothers me is the newspapers,” Rosenberg told host Sam Shad (at about the 22:40 mark in the video). “We don’t have newspapers anymore. We have people that have opinions that publish them in the newspapers.

“Up here, we have what I call yellow journalism. Down there, I don’t know what you’d call it. But they get something and hold onto it. And, boy, this is going to sell newspapers because we can really attack.”

Shad didn’t follow up on Rosenberg’s remarks, but there wasn’t a need. The knee-jerk reaction of most politicians when confronted with criticism is to blame the media, and Rosenberg proved to be no exception.

He didn’t address any of the issues, dispute any of the facts or shed any light on the three controversies involving the university system.

But I was curious about Rosenberg’s accusation that newspapers in Nevada are guilty of yellow journalism.

Of course, everyone is entitled to express his opinion. As a panelist on Nevada Newsmakers, Rosenberg is expected to voice his — the stronger the better, I suppose, as presumably strongly voiced opinions help attract viewers to television talk shows.

Yellow journalism, in case you are unfamiliar with the term, is a pejorative expressed when people criticize newspapers for being sensational, unprofessional or unethical. It dates to a time when newspapers competed against each other and typically used huge, scary headlines and blew crime news out of proportion with the idea of, yes, selling newspapers.

I have a hard time believing, though, that anything written about Nevada’s educational system would qualify as yellow journalism.

If that’s what sells newspapers these days, then I am woefully out of touch.

Or, perhaps Rosenberg is correct and newspapers have taken to sensationalizing stories about education as an attempt to make money. That would explain the state of the industry.

But, no.

I think the professor’s irritation is personal because, in addition to being a university regent at the time that board broke Nevada’s open meeting law, he has been criticized heavily “up here” as a member of the Washoe County school board that has broken Nevada’s open meeting law more than once.

I need to point out to Mr. Rosenberg that we do, indeed, still have newspapers in Nevada. They’re doing their job: holding public officials accountable, reporting to the public what they need to know, and expressing opinions — yes, the First Amendment allows them to do that too — about the quality of education in Nevada.

If we didn’t have newspapers, as he suggests, then we wouldn’t have to worry about any of that.







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