If it matters to Oregonians, it's in the New York Times

BeerpongThe New York Times notices that the Oregonian failed to cover a major national story right here in Portland. Could it be because the Oregonian didn't want to upset its biggest advertiser?

First, the background:

The full-page back-to-school ad for a Macy’s in Portland, Ore., promised “all the best looks for back to the books.” But some parents took exception to the claim when they noticed that the ad featured a T-shirt emblazoned with “Beer Pong,” a drinking game. Judy Cushing, who heads Oregon Partnership, a substance-abuse prevention group, went to the store to investigate.

Then, FOX 12 covered it - and Macy's reacted, pulling the shirts from shelves nationwide:

In a TV news report that night, Portland’s Fox affiliate showed the shirts to parents leaving Macy’s, and the parents said they were appalled. The next day, Aug. 17, Federated announced they would remove the shirts from every Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s in the country. “Clearly they were inappropriate for under-age customers,” Terry J. Lundgren, Federated’s chief executive, wrote in a letter to Ms. Cushing.

But did the Oregonian cover the story?

The account of agitated Portland parents getting a department store chain to take unilateral action was the subject of five news reports on four local TV stations over two days. But the newspaper in which the ad appeared, The Oregonian, never made any mention of it. (They were sent press releases in case they missed the TV coverage, an Oregon Partnership spokesman said.) Neither the Oregonian’s executive editor, Peter Bhatia, nor the managing editor, Therese Bottomly, responded to voice mails seeking comment.

Read the rest. Discuss.

  • (Show?)

    Another non-story...

    This is about 1/3 as offensive as the shirts that Wham! or several other local retailers sell. Sure, they don't advertise in the local circular, but they're on display in the front windows of shops in local malls and neighborhood storefronts. Chalk up another one for the censors and morality police. Maybe it's up to parents to teach their kids about drugs and alcohol and leave the decisions up to them?

    Just a thought...

  • (Show?)

    Sure.... yeah. The difference is that these shirts were in the teen section and marketed as "back to school".

    But the bigger point here is that whether or not you or I think the shirts are OK is that four TV stations thought it was news that local parents sparked a change in behavior by a national chain. But the local paper of record didn't even bother covering it in fine print on page D12 in the business section.


  • james caird (unverified)


    because Macy's is the Oregonian's cash cow. I used to work at Meier & Frank advertising department. The Oregonian paid for our Christmas party every year. The Oregonian paid for our "you've been laid off" party in August of the year we were all let go.

    Meier & Frank (now Macy's) got to dictate where their ads would go inside the newspaper.

    The size of the news "hole" in the paper was determined by how many ads Meier & Frank bought.

    Don't kid yourself, The real owner of the Snoregonian is Macy's (the paper's largest advertiser).

    And they sure as hell aren't going to write anything negative about their cash cow.

    Peter Bhatia is a stooge ... as well as Therese Bottomly. They don't even have the guts to back up or explain their lack of coverage.

    The Oregonian is not a real good newspaper.

    If it matters to Oregonians, it's in the Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Sun Times or Willamette Week.

    Like Mark Zusman said some years back, "There's a lot of talented people at the Oregonian ... I just wonder what the hell they're all doing."

    The Oregonian is plagued with laziness and arrogance.

  • Todd Hawes (unverified)

    The Oregonian has many flaws which should concern everyone and I believe this issue should have been printed somewhere in the O. With that said though, Portland has so many issues that people need to be concerned about that offensive t-shirts fall somewhere between curb side leaf pick up and someone's stolen bicycle. I guess it was a slow newsday.

  • (Show?)

    They sure are nice to the company who, IIRC, decided they were going to cut $2mil from their ad buys as Macy's, as opposed to when they were Meier and Frank.

  • Eric (unverified)

    The national news is just showing how unreasonably uptight we are here in Oregon. Having a snit fit over t-shirts when there are bigger issues to tackle shows how we have our priorities skewed. Making a mountain over a molehill with t-shirts. Oregonians are just too uptight and need to cool out.

  • (Show?)

    four [local] TV stations thought it was news.

    Hopefully this is not the new gold standard for what really matters to Oregonians.

  • Buckman Res (unverified)

    That’ll teach the OralGroanian to endorse Saxton!! They could have made life easy on themselves, but nooooo.....

    Now they’ve brought down the wrath of Blue Oregon’s main political guru on their heads.

    Nothing petty going on here.

  • Mike Schryver (unverified)

    I'll second Nate's point that whether the local TV stations cover a story is absolutely irrelevant to whether or not it's legitimate news. That said, if Macy*s (I was in the Thanksgiving Parade when I used to work for them) had the shirts in the back-to-school area, that was definitely poor judgment.

  • Javier O. Sanchez (unverified)

    Hey Blue-Bloggers,

    Here's another story that the Oregonian and local rags failed to pick-up on...Environmental Justice (EJ) is a crucial issue in an ever-diversifying Po-Po, and a topic I never see on this blog. Maybe better advocacy and inclusion of social and environmental justice concerns could stimulate a voter bloc of citizens in our most disadvantaged communities.

    And for those thinking that EJ is a love-hug of trees and streams, think more around whose living next to the highway and industrial landfill and why folks in these neighborhoods are ignored and pooped on by local officials and decison-makers.

    Check out this story from the Seattle press this morning on EPA's dismemberment of its NW EJ program.


  • Tom Foley (unverified)

    I'm glad to see that Oregon Dems care as much about real issues, e.g., sex and drinking, as Republicans do.

    Even the Libertarian Party, as idiotic as their positions on "free marketism" are, is preferable to you both.

  • (Show?)

    Look at all the attempts to distract from the issue! Sad.

    The issue, quite obviously: why is a supposedly objective media outlet failing to mention even once, a story deemed newsworthy by other major outlets in town? Is it possible that the subject of the story is made to look insensitive to the job parents have to do keeping their teens away from alcohol, and publishing those circumstances might harm their ad revenue--from that same subject?

    I love it. Say something about Bush, and someone's always there to say, "But Clinton..." Say it about Saxton, and they chime in, "What about Ted?" And now an issue that is entirely about media and economics, and it's being poo-poohed as a lame political issue. Maybe that's because it's not a political issue at all, eh?

  • bob (unverified)

    What's the big deal? Hell, they should just drop the drinking age, as what, 70% of kids age 16-18 drink anyways.

    The US really has its' panties in a bunch as compared to Europe - and these are just t-shirts.

    Oh right, we're supposed to act like Republicans now?

  • AC (unverified)

    The t-shirt story itself is an afterthought.

    The real story here is that The O appears to have committed a major breach in journalism ethics by allowing ad dollars to dictate news decisions. That's why this piece showed up in the Times a month later instead of right on time. They're taking The Oregonian to task, and rightfully so.

    Think the O's editorial decision to endorse Saxton is bad? This is way worse. The editorial board is operating within their rights (however incorrectly) in its endorsement. Not running the Macy's story, however, is to commit a cardinal sin in the news biz. It is to display a lack of neutrality and news bias intruduced by the paper's own business unit, violating one of the most basic and important ways in which responsible newspapers operate.

    I think people have forgotten, because they are too busy watching all the crap that gets piped over their 24-hour news networks, how real journalism is supposed to operate. I hope people know to be upset about this.

    The public should demand a response, and they should do so from The Oregonian's public editor, Michael Arrieta-Walden, whose job it is to represent the public in situations like this.

    He can be reached at [email protected]

  • james caird (unverified)

    Michael Arrieta-Walden is no longer the O's public editor. Last I heard, Dan Hortsch was back from retirement and doing it on an interim basis. The e-mail address is still good.

    This is a legitimate story that the Oregonian should have covered. If stories about bikes named HUMMER are front page news, there's no real argument for why this isn't news as well. The fact that they didn't cover this story, which reflects negatively on their biggest advertiser, can only lead to the conclusion that they let Macy's off the hook because they feared an economic retirbution.

    Two milliom is a drop in the bucket out of the M&F or Macy's Oregonian advertising budget. But I guarantee they O doesn't want to lose even more.

    Not covering this story is just plain wrong. Kibnd od like running Iraq war news under the banner "War on Terror" for months and months and months after people, including the their own public editor at the time, complained that linking Iraq to the war on terror was a political statement and not neutral as a newspaper should be on its news pages. Incredibly lame decisions made at the vert tip top.

    There are hardworking talented reporters and editors at the paper, but this fish stinks from the head down.

  • Righty (unverified)

    Actually, I feel robbed of the two minutes it took me to read that non-story.

    <h2>Good for the parents - but is anyone really shocked that a clothing store would have those tasteless Tees?</h2>
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