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 V.14 No.31 | August 4 - 10, 2005 

Thin Line

Credibility gap. On Sunday, July 31, an otherwise incoherent editorial in the Albuquerque Journal offered these words on Mayor Martin Chavez' attempt to ban alcohol at all-ages shows:

Defenders say there's no problem, because the bar is fenced or partitioned off from the rest of the hall. Adults can drink only within that area and no liquor gets out among the younger crowd. But intoxicated adults do get out among kids as young as 15—without a doubt, that is the attraction for some of the adults.

After the show, adults who have been drinking and youngsters pour out on the Downtown streets together. It's a volatile mixture, one that provides plenty of opportunity for contributing to the delinquency of a minor—a mixture the state should prohibit.

"(W)ithout a doubt, this is the attraction for some adults," is hardly an informed opinion. In fact, it's blatant speculation and anyone who has actually been to an all-ages show, apparently unlike the nameless editorial writer(s) at the Journal, knows this.

Meanwhile, in a fit of lazy, irresponsible editorial writing, the Journal parrots Mayor Marty Chavez' fear-based propaganda without naming him as the source.

The whole fantasy that a "volatile mixture" ignites into juvenile delinquency on the streets of Albuquerque also parrots Marty's message nearly word-for-word.

But where is the proof? What delinquency is the Journal talking about? Is some adult gonna buy a teenager a hotdog on the street and foster poor eating habits? Besides, at every all-ages show I've been to, adults don't pour into the street after the show, they stay in the bar and enjoy a libation. Minors, on the other hand, have to leave when the show's over, through a seperate exit.

If you want to talk about delinquency and volatile mixtures, go watch underage kids drink-up at Isotopes Stadium and the Journal Pavilion, where it takes minimal creativity for a 22-year-old to buy his 19-year-old friend a cerveza. At the Launchpad, it's impossible—the security is too tight. (For more commentary, logon to alibi.com.)

Press release journalism. On Monday, July 11, the Albuquerque Journal's "Business Outlook" featured a front-page story with the headline: "The world's first commercial chile thinner is working in N.M. Fields." The story begins with a chile farmer named James Johnson in Columbus who expects his new chile thinner to save him money and alleviate his trouble finding enough hands to work in the field.

The reporter explains: "The Johnsons are the first farmers to buy the chile thinner from CEMCO Inc., a Belen-based manufacturer that won a license from New Mexico State University to make and market the machine. It was developed by engineers with the New Mexico Chile Task Force, a coalition of scientists and industry representatives coordinated by NMSU."

Then the reporter quotes Rich Phillips, senior project manager for NMSU's College of Agriculture and Home Economics: "This is a major step forward in an effort to mechanize chile production. We saw the need for this machine, developed the technology, tested it and then handed it to a commercial manufacturer."

The reporter, pictured on the cover, is identified as an assistant editor with NMSU Agricultural Communications. That's right. The business section of the state's largest newspaper published NMSU's promotional material, written by an NMSU staffer, as a front-page news story.

What's next week's cover story going to be? An article about how Wal-Mart is doing a stellar job of keeping wages low while finding innovative ways to minimize employee theft, written by some intern at Wal-Mart's public relations office? Nice work, Business Outlook. You've provided every journalism class in town with an embarrassing example of press release journalism.

House of Payne. Last, but not least, the inimitable Greg Payne is back on the radio at 770-KOB on Saturdays at 1 p.m. "There's no real agenda other than to be entertaining and thought-provoking," said Payne, former city councilor, current state representative and former Alibi columnist, of his return to the airwaves.

The show, “House of Payne," got off to an electrifying start on Saturday, July 30, when callers, in an unscientific poll, elected David Steele Albuquerque's next mayor, although his name will not appear on the ballot.

Meanwhile, Mr. Payne was quoted in a front-page story in Sunday's Journal entitled, "Politics Clouds Mayor's Race," saying, "In the mayor's race, you have this unusual situation where the Democrat (Chavez) is more conservative in some areas than the Republican (Winter)." In the very next paragraph, just in case you missed it, the Journal quotes Payne again: "In certain areas the mayor is more Republican (than Winter)."

The article did not, however, give an example of what those "certain areas" are. Perhaps you'll have to tune into "House of Payne" to find out.


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Trolley of Lights at ABQ Trolley Co. @ Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town

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