Jim Campanini is Not a Very Good Editor*

May 9, 2007 at 6:15 pm | Posted in Lowell, Lowell Sun, New Orleans | 14 Comments

campanini.jpgThis post will be of no interest to anyone outside of Lowell.  And as far as I know, the only person from Lowell who visits this site is my wife.  But I couldn’t resist expressing my extreme frustration with Lowell Sun editor-in-chief Jim Campanini.

Once upon a time, I actually tried to get a job with the Sun, though I had the good sense to ‘break off talks’ before accepting the slave wage that is commonplace in the newspaper industry. 

During that time, I met with Campanini twice, and found him to be pleasant, yet a bit simple and behind-the-times.  He was quite proud of his idea to boost Monday sales by devoting a full page to reader-submitted pet photos.  He offered to bet money on the fact that MediaNews CEO Dean Singleton would sue Google and bring them to their knees for ripping off newspapers’ content.  (I still don’t understand what the hell he was talking about there.) 

And at one point, he leaned into his desk and said, with furrowed brow, “You’re not one of those liberals, are ya?”

We spoke at length about how the Sun could integrate technology to remain relevant, and I must credit Campanini for at least trying new things.  Some of those things work: most Sun feature stories have supplementary videos at lowellsun.com, and the site has five blogs, though I don’t know if anyone watches the videos or reads the blogs.  (You may recall our fruitless efforts to shut down Sanjaya-basher TV blogger Andrew Ravens.) 

Other techno-based moves are less impressive.  As a whole, the Sun website is a hideous disaster – the design is awful and it’s not updated until late in the day. 

And the Sun may be the only paper in the country that’s tackling the future by launching a phone call-in show, SunTalk Live.  In this special edition, Campanini reports live from New Orleans, where he was, rather shockingly, speaking at a conference about the Internet and newspapers.  Here’s some astute analysis on the ravaged city from a horse and buggy tour that he took:

“I was fascinated…if the local people aren’t coming back, you know who’s coming back?  The movie stars and celebrities. 

Uh, Nicholas Cage just paid 4 million dollars for a home.  He bought it from the novelist Ann Rice, she’s the one of the vampire…the Interview With A Vampire fame.  And I guess she moved to California and Nicholas Cage bought her place…So then we turn down Royal Street and we see Delta Burke’s home and they were just putting a new coat of paint on it.  Now Delta Burke is the actress from Designing Woman.  Women.  OK?  So we think, gee that’s it, Nicholas Cage and Delta Burke. 

So then we take a uhhh…I think it was a right, just by the Ursuline Convent…And um, and (the driver) says, ‘Well, those two are nice,’ he says.  ‘But here’s a 5 million dollar home and guess who just bought it?’  And I says I don’t have an idea.  And he says, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt!  And I said, you got to be kidding me!”

Anyway, lately the Sun – yaknow, the objective, fair and balanced, local paper – has been railing against the Lowell teacher’s union, which is presently in negotiations with the city for a new contract.  This editoiralizing would be fine if it was limited to the Opinion page.  But Campanini – again, the head honcho and the arbiter of what goes in the paper and how – unleashed a vicious and childish screed on his political blog yesterday, titled “Be Prepared: Lowell Teachers Strike Is Coming.  It came in the wake of a United Teachers of Lowell rally in front of city hall. 

Here are some lowlights:

“For a majority of the teachers, it was the first time in their lives seeing Lowell after 6 p.m…Too bad the Chamber of Commerce wasn’t alerted.  It could have told shop owners to stay open for some extra business.  Then again, why bother.  All these teachers know of Lowell is what they see in their rear-view mirrors on the way out of town each day.”

“If they spend any money at all in Lowell it’s to have their car windows tinted so students can’t see them driving out of Dodge.  God forbid if a kid stops them in the street to say hello. They’d probably call 911.”

“The best part — for me anyway — was watching a union boss try to park his Lincoln Continental Town Car in a space devoid of a parking meter.  Of course, he could have parked much easier in a metered spot, but why go against profile.  Take what you can and leave the rest.  That’s the union motto.”

“If a strike does occur, it would be a great opportunity for the school board to break this non-Lowell union.  At least 800 members live outside of Lowell and could care less if the city goes bankrupt.  They’ve proven it time and again under Georges, who drives Mercedes to work each day from Newbury.”

“The board should do what former city manager Bill Taupier proposed during a prior strike threat. Get every teacher’s name, put it on a piece of paper and place them in a revolving drum. Each day of the strike, pull 10 names out of the drum, and fire the teachers.”

Now I don’t even care about the content of the debate.  While I’ve been a part of a failed union organizing drive, my motivation was improving my life and that of my co-workers.  My views on the value of unions are made on a case-by-case basis.  And quite honestly, I don’t know enough about this case to have any informed opinion.

However, I do know that this is no way for an editor-in-chief to write about ANY controversial topic.  How can any paper be trusted to present legitimate, honest coverage when the bias of its leadership is so clearly stated? 

I guess there’s something to be said for transparency and full disclosure.  But at least give a sophisticated argument.  We’re not talking about some hot-headed columnist or a wack-job blogger.  This is top of the masthead here.  The Man!  The paper’s leader, fanning flames, personally attacking the teachers (who “could care less if the city goes bankrupt”), and penning an immature nya-nya-nya-nya-nya screed.

I’m extremely tempted to cancel my subscription over this matter.  But doing so, in some minute way, is more of a punishment to the paper’s reporters, who surely bust their asses doing some good work and putting up with this guy.  (Except you, Ravens!  We will still take you down!) 

However, I’m shocked that he’s allowed to carry on this way.

In conclusion, I will repeat what I wrote in the comments section of his blog – which I’m sure will not make it through the screening process.

Give us the news, Campanini.  It’s part of your job to stay above the fray.  AND GROW THE F UP! 

*Previously titled “Jim Campanini is a Tool”, but then I felt that might be stooping to his level.  But I’m just a meager blogger.  And Jim Campanini is a tool.

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14 Comments »

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  1. Does the Sun still use a 16-point typeface in its print edition?

    I miss the Eagle-Tribune so much. That place was just . . . great, ya know?

  2. I was referred over by one of your former Trib colleagues. Pretty spot on in your take of Campanini. I used to read and post to his blog but since he struggles to keep posting in a timely manner and the other five people who posted there all agreed with him, I saw little point in defending my views. My favorite is when he tells us how much better off we are with the Sun still around as an excuse for lousy journalism. Just because there’s no competititon doesn’t mean they add anything constructive or informative to the exchange of information.

  3. Well, you got to hand it to the guy, he’s pretty sure he’s right. He really sees nothing wrong with what he writes. I’m a tad baffled. I mean, I know nothing about the teacher contract dispute because I don’t have kids and I don’t know any teachers. And I don’t have a newspaper that I trust to tell me the truth on the issue, since it’s so clear that they have a horse in the race. And for that matter, I guess I don’t even mind if they have a horse in the race. It’s just the tone of the whole thing that’s so bizarre. The vindictivenes. And THAT’s what makes me not trust them.

    Whatever. It’s a shame this whole thing had to bump that sexy-ass picture of Bea Arthur down, but it had to happen sooner or later.

    And yes, Mr. Butt, the print is still large and in charge.

  4. Campy is a very worse example of “yellow journalism” as you can find.

    The whole Lowell Sun is widely regarded as being very biased, very inaccurate and not above attack politics in favor of canidates they endorse.

    Plus what newspaper allows anonymous letters a la their “Back Talk” section? I mean, honestly!

    They truly are one of the worst newspapers I have ever read but since they are the only real large newspaper in the region, we are stuck with the losers.

  5. Lucythedog,

    No need to be so formal. “Mr. Butt” is my father’s name! Call me Dick.

  6. […] we now must reverse course and demand that he be promoted immediately and named replacement to not very good editor Jim Campanini.  (Hey, what ever happened to that lively Community Forum anyway, Thomas […]

  7. Best blog ever!
    I’m a former Sun reporter, and you don’t know the half of it. One of the most hateful men I’ve ever had the displeasure of working with and knowing!

  8. […] a reader, I can deal with a dopey editor-in-chief.  I can handle grammatical errors.  I can begrudgingly swallow the reckless assault on Sanjaya […]

  9. […] So to summarize:  The Lowell Sun ran a story saying that the most tenured ad salesman at the Lowell Sun is retiring.  But he’s not.  And Jim Campanini is still not a very good editor. […]

  10. Heh.. Do you appreciate my sensitive tide I have a nice joke for you people! 🙂 Did you hear about the farmer who was found guilty of selling rotten fruit? He was judged by his pears!

  11. […] not a bad one at that.  But my opinion could be favorably skewed by the fact that he is neither Jim Campanini nor Lowellita.  All things are […]

  12. […] began nearly two years ago, on May 9, 2007, with our *NEPA award-winning evisceration of the paper’s plump n’ pasty editor, Jim Campanini.  Thanks to that fine piece of […]

  13. […] war.  Political ineptitude.  Tea-bagging retards and Nazi-boning infidels.  Pretty much all the columnists at the Lowell Sun and every boozy T rider who curses in front of kids.  What’s up […]

  14. I just read today’s editorial slamming warren and acting like she manipulated McConnell to envoke rule 19 please keep ur voice alive. Only found your blog looking to find info on campanini he is a terrible editor and should be replaced


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