Careful PNJ – your green eyed monster is showing: Cosson article spotlights local media clique-think

Careful PNJ – your green eyed monster is showing: Cosson article spotlights local media clique-think

By Deborah Nelson

July 27, 2015


eyeIs the Pensacola News Journal planning to scrutinize every questionable local government job, or just the ones they’re seething with jealousy over?

I refer to PNJ’s recent coverage of a PR contract the City awarded former Press Secretary Derek Cosson.

PNJ’s sudden interest in Cosson’s job is particularly puzzling considering the many, many questionable taxpayer-sponsored “consultant” handouts and “nonprofit” contracts they’ve ignored through the years (even after being alerted by area residents).

Just recently, in a story on Cosson’s new consultant contract, PNJ took great pains to point out the circumstances of his resignation from the former PR job. Almost like they were wallowing in it.

They also detailed Cosson’s compensation. They even took a swipe at Social Media contractor Laura Bogan – when PNJ prints anybody’s salary, you can bet they’re hopping mad at them. Hey PNJ, how about a list of local “economic development” salaries and “consultant” pay? How about a list of Rebuild Northwest Florida jobs and pay? Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office? School District administrative salaries? Didn’t think so.

What could have our crack local “investigative” team in such a tizzy?

Ah ha – it seems Cosson had at one time run an unauthorized blog site.

By “unauthorized,” I mean it wasn’t owned by PNJ or close personal friends of PNJ or their big-dollar advertisers.

Here’s what’s interesting…or perhaps the better word is “ironic” about PNJ’s obvious outrage at one, single person’s salary at the Mayor’s office.

During the time when local “government experts” were pushing a new Charter for the City of Pensacola, I was serving as President of the League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area.

My take at the time was that the Charter “initiative” was another in a long line of “answers to questions nobody was asking” projects designed to benefit certain individuals at the expense of everybody else (see: Maritime Park, City/County Consolidation).

Anyway, the League raised a number of concerns about the Charter process. Sharon Barnett, a respected local attorney who was also a League member, used her own time and effort to research the process and write an extensive White Paper analysis of the proposed document’s shortcomings.

Which was largely ignored.

Sharon and I showed up a several Charter meetings, including one where I spoke about the potential problems down the road of assigning authority over lucrative Civil Service jobs to the office of Mayor.

The concern was that those jobs would be used as political handouts to award cronies. You know, instead of hiring somebody qualified. Positions could be established just for that purpose. It’s called the spoils system, and it’s why Federal and State civil service systems are no longer overseen by the political side of the house.

So Sharon and I said our pieces and sat down. Here’s where it gets interesting.

The Pensacola News Journal was there, in the person of a reporter and a columnist.

The reporter quoted the League (mostly Sharon’s concerns, to my recollection) the next morning in PNJ’s online story on the meeting. I saw the quote at about 7 a.m.-ish.

It had disappeared by 9 a.m. or so. There was nothing about the civil service concerns. Guess PNJ just didn’t think it merited “serious journalistic” attention.

So whyyyyyyy PNJ, are you so interested in Cosson’s particular, single Mayor’s Office job now?   You had nothing to say, nothing to report, no sign you even noticed the issue had been raised during Charter talks. Why the sudden attention now?

Could it be the aforementioned “unauthorized” nature of Cosson’s blog still rankling?

Little jealous? It’s scary when lots of other people can do your job better than you. For free.

It gets worse.

Cosson was apparently running a perfectly legitimate private blog making fun of a local newspaper publisher when somebody alerted the Sheriff’s Office to investigate it. For something called cyber harassment.

PNJ, don’t you think you should have been disturbed to see police and judicial powers concerning themselves with what was clearly satire? You know, as a “First Amendment” industry?

Did you request public records from the State Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office to “investigate” if any part of the police action was merited? Did you question why government officials were pursuing a private citizen exercising free speech rights?

That’s the type of government/police collusion we expect to see in the Third World. Shouldn’t a local newspaper be up in arms about this kind of thing?

Where was PNJ’s concern over what was clearly a First Amendment attack? Nowhere to be found, just like the missing Charter reports.

Sadly, I’ll note that the Charter issue wasn’t the last time PNJ censored me and scrubbed information before releasing it to their readership.

The U.S. Supreme Court approved Obamacare the first time around several years ago, when I was Chair of the Santa Rosa Democratic Executive Committee.

Having been paying attention to health care issues for some time, I was well aware of what a grotesque farce Obamacare was and is. When PNJ called me for a comment, I explained why the program will bankrupt the middle class.

PNJ ran my comments for approximately 12 hours. They were gone the next day – replaced by positive comments from the Escambia Democratic Executive Committee Chair; under the caption “Democrats were happy.”

Yes folks, our local newspaper of record didn’t find it at all interesting that Mr. Obama’s own party was opposing his health care handout to the insurance industry.

Maybe I should have put it in a blog.



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