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.