By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The Sun shines on Marty Meehan

Up until today, my favorite story about the Lowell Sun involved the time in 1997 that then-editor Jack Costello — doubling as chair of a local government agency — banged out a story under one of his reporter’s bylines, even typing in quotes and attributing them to himself.

“Whether I generate that on the computer or tell it to a reporter, it’s irrelevant, isn’t it?” Costello told me in 1998. “I am the chairman, and you would logically go to the chairman of the arena commission to get a quote. You know what I’m saying?” Oh, yes. Absolutely.

Sadly, the tale of Two-Hat Jack may now have to give way to this Steve Bailey gem in today’s Boston Globe. It seems that the Sun is throwing a 50th-birthday party for U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Lowell. And if you’re a local business owner, you’re invited — to buy an ad in a special commemorative supplement, the proceeds from which will enrich both the Sun and a foundation Meehan heads. Bailey writes:

A full page in this special “Marty Meehan at 50” keepsake edition goes for $3,000; a half-page is $1,900. The back page, in color, is $6,000. If you are looking to feed at the trough — and who isn’t? — are you really going to say no when the congressman’s office calls? The only real question is can I get away with a quarter page (price: $1,250)?

Needless to say, this blows through every journalistic ethics test imaginable. And unless Denver-based owner Dean Singleton, head of MediaNews Group, does something about it — like, by the end of today — it pretty much makes a mockery of Singleton’s efforts to transform his image from media bottom-feeder to respectable publisher.

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  1. Anonymous

    I would think that an association with Marty “Term Limits” Meehan would in itself be an embarrassment.

  2. Anonymous

    Geez, where have you been? They did the exact same thing for Ted Kennedy’s birthday a few years back.

  3. Anonymous

    The Sun is a strange bird, a conservative paper that is permanently in bed with the overwhelmingly Democratic government (federal and state) that funnels money into the city. The paper’s hucksterism (if that’s a word) toward Lowell is embarrassing, and Dan’s anecdote about Costello is par for the course for this perennial conflict of interest. Oh, and the paper looks like garbage, since they haven’t done a redesign since the Taft administration.

  4. Anonymous

    Oh, the Globe (& Steve Bailey) would see (and saw nothing) nothing wrong with a special section to their hero Ted Kennedy.Particularly since they provide the same such coverage on their news pages, as will be found in these un-readable special section fluff-fests.I think it was Shakespere who said, “a hand-job by any other name are still hand job.!

  5. Lynne

    We’ve documented the Lowell Sun’s ethical problems lots of times…this is the worst case I’ve seen since I moved to the area, though.I really do think that the people in charge have got to go. And since those people don’t like me anyway, I’m not afraid to say it!

  6. Anonymous

    When Jack and Alex and Tommy and their sister (what is her name, anyway?) ran the place it was more inbred than now, but they inherited that tradition of meddling from father John and Uncle Clem. The Sun has sucked up to Democratic pols since Kendall Wallace was a pup, and that was a loooong time ago. It does seem disingenuous for Meehan to say The Sun’s coverage has been “lousy.” If that’s the case, why is he putting one of his staffers as a contact person for curious advertizers?

  7. Anonymous

    “As us locals know, the Sun has ran a special pullout (sic)…” When you get a chance, say “hey” to Jed Clampett and the Duke brothers for me…

  8. amusedbutinformedobserver

    And what about employing Paul Sullivan as a political columnist and some kind of political editor when he’s on the state payroll (and presumably within arm’s reach of the local state senators and state reps) as an adjunct professor of something or other? Does the newsroom contribute to this section? Has the post-Costello newsroom leadership under Singleton ever fought against these ethical encroachments or do they simply say yes master?

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