The LuLac Edition #3408, January 18th, 2017
During the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, many people in our area were tiring of the attention that both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden received for their roots in this region. Granted there was coverage. But nothing like the probe of Luzerne County voters who by their majority pretty much made it possible for Donald Trump to carry Pennsylvania in 2016. The national media has swarmed on this area doing probes as to why this county, the Lu and the Lac to a lesser extent voted the way we did.
It has been a treat to see this coverage for my media friends and Republican winners. But the Times Leader might have had it right on Tuesday when the paper said, "Whoa". Here's their editorial and the link to it. http://timesleader.com/opinion/editorials/626127/our-opinion-big-media-overdoes-it-in-luzerne-county
Oh, big media, you flatter us so. We appreciate all the attention since the November election, all the celebs, all the national TV exposure. You are simply too, too generous with your time.
But please, stop!
Seriously, stop. Or at least, if you are going to keep swooping in, give Luzerne County a cut of the action, a royalty of some sort from the money your programs or publications make. One of you could open up a little studio here and employ a few locals.
Or maybe we could figure out how to pull a “New Jersey.” You know, let you enter Luzerne County for free, but charge a hefty toll to leave.
The latest case: ABC’s 20/20 aired a segment Friday that included Wilkes-Barre firefighter Chris Smith’s struggle to make ends meet.
Make no mistake, the central point — that too many Americans are having a hard time financially — is real, particularly in an age when so much of the nation’s wealth is going to a small a slice of its population.
But frankly, a city firefighter’s salary is almost always above the county’s average household income of $45,897, and well above the per capita income of $25,224. Smith also has health insurance coverage through work (which he contributes to), has received regular contractual raises, and gets a pension upon retirement.
One wonders how representative Smith’s situation really is.
A few days earlier, NBCnews.com ran a report on Luzerne County’s drug problem, a piece given a healthy dose of coal in this space Saturday. As noted in that editorial, NBC decided to measure Luzerne County’s overdose death rate against New York City’s rate, clearly a comparison chosen with emotional impact in mind, not logic.
A comparison with similar-sized counties that share similar demographics would have been dull, if potentially more informative. The NBC piece also flitted between talking about the county, about Wilkes-Barre proper, and about the Metropolitan Statistical Area of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
And it referred to “a brand new Chick-fil-A, which is located on the first floor of a dorm that King’s College built right on the square …” King’s built nothing. They renovated a former hotel, and it is home to the school’s health sciences program, as well as student housing.
Since the county turned red in helping Donald Trump win the presidency, we’ve also had visits by Time magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, LeMonde and Reuters.
Even if it’s true that any publicity is good publicity (it’s not), and even if our county really has become a quintessential microcosm of America writ large (unlikely), so much attention in so short a time starts to feel like heard journalism, as in “I heard Luzerne County is perfect for the kind of story we’re looking to do.”
By all means, come on in, sit a spell, really get to know us and our area. We love the company.
But if you keep dropping in because we’ve become a convenient place to flesh out your pre-conceived notions of life in the “rust belt,” well, consider broadening your horizons.