The good people of Brattleboro must be wondering “What in hell happened to our local newspaper?” Because the Reformer’s owner, Belarusian native and skillionaire currency trader Paul Belogour, has begun exercising Rich Guy’s Prerogative over the paper’s content.
Last week the Reformer published a despicable opinion piece by Belogour entitled “War is the Answer” in which he explained why the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a good thing. Well, actually, he didn’t say “invasion.” He said “the war between Russia and Ukraine,” which is exactly like saying “the battle between lion and antelope.”
That was bad enough, but at least it was labeled “opinion” and carried the usual disclaimer “The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of Vermont News & Media.” But now the paper has published a “news” article that’s essentially a handjob for the boss.
The story, entitled “Refugees to be housed at Belogour’s Bulgarian hotel; his pro soccer team opens doors to displaced women, children.” Said soccer team is also in Bulgaria. It doesn’t even try to connect the story with Brattleboro, because there is no connection.
And it carries the weakest possible disclosure. Belogour is identified, deep in the article, as the owner of Vermont News & Media. Astute readers will know that’s the parent company of the Reformer, Bennington Banner and Manchester Journal. The rest of the reading public will not make that connection. It’s a deceptive, inadequate disclosure. But I bet it made the boss happy.
Those pieces are bad enough. What we don’t know is how many pieces have not been published. Newspapers have wide latitude when it comes to running wire service copy and syndicated columnists. If there was a ban on coverage of the global communitys reaction or the humanitarian disaster or Russian aggression or the heroism of Ukraine’s president, we wouldn’t be able to tell.Continue reading