Monday, June 27, 2005

Geringer’s Folly: What is the Daily News’ Real Agenda?

Dan Geringer is a veteran Daily News writer who used to cover education and schools for the paper (very well I might add) prior to the Vallas regime. Since then, he has become the DN’s Stinkmesiter and Joltmeister monitoring the city’s potholes and smelly places. Today, Geringer brought the stink onto himself.

Read my fellow contributor Ben Waxman’s summary of Geringer’s sensational pg. 5 article on Philadelphia’s homeless on Ben Franklin Parkway.

Why would a good writer like Geringer write this kind of yellow journalist-style drivel? First and foremost, Geringer likely wrote this piece because his editor asked him too.

It can not be a coincidence that this piece was published just five days before Welcome America, Live 8 and Elton John and tens of thousands of concert-goers will converge on the Parkway. This kind of article is what Donald Rumsfeld would likely call “propaganda” if printed in an Iraqi insurgent publication. Geringer's article, unwittingly or not, lays the groundwork for the City to clear off all the homeless from the Parkway before next weekend which according to some homeless advocates is an annual event.

Geringer’s piece is also reflective of the fact that most people still just don’t get it when it comes to dealing with the issue of homelessness and lack of housing. Yes, feeding people on the Parkway and giving money to panhandlers does not address the systemic problems that cause homelessness. However, a more responsible piece of journalism would explore the underlying issues and provide constructive solutions to the problem rather then shamelessly sensationalizing very serious and real problems.

It's not as if there isn't a lot to report on.

Philadelphia is nationally recognized for its homeless outreach and prevention programs. Service providers and advocates have been working very hard to finalize the “10-year Plan to End Homelessness,” which would address the economic justice and mental health issues that lie at the root of many individual’s homelessness. According to the city’s homeless czar, Rob Hess, in a November City Paper article, Philadelphia could “be the first city in America to end the need for anyone to sleep on our streets.” Wouldn't you like to know how this plan is going in the context of this year's bare bones city budget?

Beyond city politics, take a look at the Daily News since January and you will not see one story about the federal budget resolution already passed by Congress earlier this year that will cut homeless and housing funding for Philadelphia. How can the DN ignore such an important story with real impact on the city’s budget, fiscal health and moral responsibility while devoting so much space to offensive articles like the one that appeared today?

If Geringer and the Daily News’ editors want to do Philadelphians a real service, they would publish real news stories about homelessness and other economic issues affecting the city’s ability to move forward rather than stereotyping, sensationalizing and propagandizing issues of importance.

A sampling of national recognition for Philadelphia’s success in reducing Homelessness:

San Francisco





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