• U.S.

The Press: Oversight

2 minute read

Meier & Frank, a 14-story, block-square department store in Portland, Ore., is the biggest in the Pacific Northwest. It is also easily the biggest advertiser (10% of the linage) in Portland’s two daily newspapers, the morning Oregonian (circ. 213,135) and the evening Oregon Journal (circ. 195,351).

Last week, in his monthly Oregon Democrat (circ. 2,500), Democratic National Committeeman Monroe Sweetland accused the two Portland dailies of suppressing news about their biggest advertiser. An A.F.L. union had accused store officials of unfair labor practices. Hearings on the charges had been held for eight days last month, but, wrote Monroe Sweetland, “Not one news story of the Meier & Frank case appeared in the Portland press.”

It was true that neither newspaper had mentioned the case. But was it deliberate suppression? Editors said no. They blamed their failure to cover the story, not on the influence of the advertising department but on “reporter incompetence.” The hearings had taken place in a seldom-used chamber of the eight-story U.S. courthouse, and reporters had simply overlooked them. When the case is resumed, the editors said, they expect to cover it. But at week’s end, neither the Oregonian nor the Journal had admitted the oversight in print—or told its readers anything about the case.

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