Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Media and PSAs

Two articles on Phillyburbs caught my attention. They are both dated 12/25 and touch on the same subject but from different viewpoints. It illustrates, to some degree, how our elected officials may feel they can do no right.

In "Ellis gains support for Pa treasurer," by Jacob Fenton, state treasurer candidate and, as of next week, former Montgomery County Commissioner Tom Ellis discusses some of his priorities if elected. He references a project started by current treasurer Robin Weissmann.

With two daughters in college, Ellis said he has first-hand experience with the state's college savings plan, and thought he could improve it. He credited Wiessmann, who is the wife of one of his partners, with beginning to advertise the program but said it needed to get broader notice.

However, in "TV ad cost tops $800,000," Kori Walter Intelligencer 12/25, we find Rep. Rick Taylor (D-151) criticized for providing broader notice of the same college savings program.
Rep. Rick Taylor appeared on television screens in his Eastern Montgomery County district 1,200 times in 2007 — and it cost taxpayers almost $45,000.

The freshman lawmaker used his taxpayer-funded cable television air time in May to tout a state program that helps parents sock away money for their children's college costs.

I would like to note that the first time I saw Rick Taylor, running for office, I was taken by his clear interest and knowledge of college savings plans.

Another article by Walter, published at, "House spent thousands of your dollars to talk to you," Times (Beaver County and Allegheny) on 12/22 highlights similar ads featuring another freshman legislator. That article starts:
Rep. Jaret Gibbons, D-10, Ellwood City, appeared on television screens in his district more than 1,200 times in 2007 — and it cost taxpayers nearly $74,000, according to House Democratic records.

The freshman lawmaker used his taxpayer-funded cable television air time in May to promote a children’s expo in Ellwood City where youngsters and their parents could pick up brochures about state programs and get free dental exams by University of Pittsburgh dentistry students.

After the initial paragraphs about the individual legislators the articles are virtually identical, with quotes from Russ Diamond of PA CleanSweep and Erik Arneson, a spokesman for the Senate Majority Leader.

Tailoring the news to specific locales is a necessity in the media and with the proliferation of companies owning several news outlets in a given area you often see similar or nearly identical articles in a number of papers. Still, it does give one pause.


Anonymous said...

No wonder your average voter is so confused. Then again, that's assuming they read the newspaper. Ugh.

AboveAvgJane said...


Thanks for the comment. It can be confusing.

I should have noted that I have a lot of respect for the reporters involved and mean no disrespect to them personally.