Is it any wonder New Jersey is the laughing stock of the nation? From today’s Opinion Journal:
"The Newark City Council has awarded the Newark Weekly News a $100,000 no-bid contract to publish positive news about the city," reports the Associated Press:
Howard Scott, who owns Newark Weekly News, pitched the idea to the city council, which unanimously approved the idea earlier this month. "Do we have critical reporters on staff? No. Do we have investigative reporters? No," Scott said. "Our niche is the good stuff. People have come to know it, and they love it."
We found the Newark Weekly News online (link is bandwidth-intensive, since the paper is presented as a series of JPEG images), and we must say it does not appear to be the best-edited publication we've ever seen.
The headline of the lead story, an obituary for a city councilman, reads "Newark's Loss Leaves Gaping Political Whole." Even odder, the byline is "Kenya Nairobi, Assistant Managing Editor," though the masthead on page 3 lists the AME as Kenya Pope. Similarly, two other front-page stories list the author as "JahJah Shakur, City News Editor," while the masthead lists no one by that title but does cite a "City Reporter-at-large" by the name of "Jah Jah Jah."
Anyway, the Weekly News deal doesn't strike us as inherently problematic, so long as the paper doesn't pretend to be independent. The city is, in essence, contracting out a public-relations newsletter. But given the quality of the product, it's hard to see how Newark taxpayers are getting their money's worth.
What James Taranto may not realize is that Newark is heavily subsidized by the state’s taxpayers – from garbage trucks for Newark, homeland security funds, schools spending 35% more per pupil than the wealthiest community, to a $300 million sports arena. This is just another $100,000 out of the pockets of New Jersey taxpayers.