Apr 6, 2011

Texas paper spikes column critical of major advertiser

Romenesko has linked to a troubling story about the Hearst-owned San Antonio Express-News and its decision to spike a column from a veteran writer that took the HEB supermarket chain to task for the dilapidated condition of stores in predominantly black neighborhoods, and the shoddy quality of meats sold there.

Challenged by a writer for the Plaza de Armas news site, Express-News Editor Bob Rivard said this:
You are free, of course, to campaign against us by asserting without any evidence that we are not publishing what you want us to publish because H-E-B is a major advertiser. I’d suggest instead that we approach any story about H-E-B based on its long-standing and well-deserved reputation in the city, region and state as a best-in-class business, leading corporate citizen, and a company and ownership with an unrivaled record of philanthropy and support for public education in Texas.
So... it's not the company's money that led to the column being spiked, it's the company's influence that led to the column being spiked... influence that stems from making lots of money.

Circular logic does not get the paper around its responsibility to keep a watchful eye on all powerful corporate citizens, even the "leading" ones - "without fear or favor" does not work well when editors pick favorites.

(Let me disclose that I tried to buy a six-pack of beer at an HEB grocery store in Elgin, Texas a couple years back and was refused because I had an out of state ID. Pointing out that the beer also came from out of state did not change the manager's mind. So, one could argue I'm less than objective about the chain.)


Anonymous said...

forget about the story. the cashier didn't think you were 21?

Gary Scott said...

Of course she did. But the store policy was to check.

In addition, the California driver's license if full of holograms and other "sophisticated" features. The Texas ID looks like a laminated business card.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't sell a lunatic like you booze, either.