Marianas Variety: Ads Pulled by Administration

February 7, 2010

The Marianas Variety was told that the Fitial Administration wanted to pull their public health ads from the paper:
The Department of Public Health, one of the largest advertising accounts for the CNMI government, was told by the Fitial administration to cease all advertisements with the Marianas Variety on Friday.

“I received a call from one of the staffers of the Department of Public Health and was told to cancel all ads,” said Variety advertising account executive Jeanette Sarabia.
Government officials who have declined to be identified confirmed that Public Health was instructed to stop all advertisements with the Variety, which earlier signed a contract with the department for these ads.
I like the Marianas Variety. It's not the Washington Post, but it's a newspaper that can't be intimidated into what to print. I enjoy Zaldy Dandan's intelligent editorials and appreciate his opinions even though sometimes I may not totally agree with them. He's an excellent writer. I also appreciate the stories by reporters Gemma Casas and others.

One of the first people I met when I arrived in the CNMI was Abed Younis who owns the Variety. In 1984, he hired me to be a free-lance reporter and photographer covering Rota news. I also picked up the papers at the airport, delivered them to the stores in the villages, and collected the money from the sales. I met many outstanding people through that job. Some were people who would remain friends like Nick Legaspi who worked at the paper, and some were people I met through covering stories - archaeologists, scientists, politicians, and every day people. I learned a great deal because of that opportunity.

There are CNMI officials who clearly want only their version of the news to be published. The Attorney General, Edward Buckingham even went after the press in his pathetic defense of Massage-gate made in the Reply to Response submitted to the US District Court of the NMI last week. He said: all equity and fairness, the CNMI and all of the individuals involved in the incident ought to be apprised of the nature of the proposed actions against them, rather than be subjected to whatever the charge-of-the-week happens to be. All played out in the local media. More reputations dragged through the mud. More speculation. More innuendos. More red meat for the mob.
Maybe the AG should encourage the governor to come clean in a press conference or even issue a long awaited apology if he wants speculation to end. Blaming the press is twisted, at best.

Some of you may remember that the Marianas Variety was banned from covering the New Year's Eve party Willie Tan and then Governor Froilan Tenorio hosted for Abramoff buddies, former US Rep. Tom DeLay(R-TX) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, their families and Congressional staffers. So it should come as no surprise that editor Zaldy Dandan reported that the CNMI Department of Health announced it was pulling it's ads from the Variety. The ads are a major source of revenue for the paper.

The Variety reported:
“For 38 years, we have been the true watchdog for the community and we will continue to be vigilant about exposing the truth and upholding the freedom of the press, with no regard to special interests or negative pressure from advertisers,” said Variety president Laila Y. Boyer.
“Our community deserves a newspaper that is fearless in pursuing the truth and giving the people the information they need to make the commonwealth a stronger and better place to live. Because this is our home, we know and understand nothing else,” she said.
Great statement.

Unless the ads are being pulled from the Saipan Tribune also, this is most likely an act of retaliation for the Variety's excellent and unrelenting coverage of Massage-Gate. I am sure the Administration has also taken note of the many comments that the Variety readers post to the Massage-Gate articles. Almost every comment is against the governor and in support of his resignation and an end to this administration's belief that it is above the law.

The worn "kill the messenger" defense is still being used in the CNMI because there is no other defense for the ridiculous and scandalous actions of some officials. Those that attack the press think (wrongly) that the public can be fooled into buying the childish game of blaming the press instead of the offenders who were outed. We saw this with the Abramoff scandal, with the coverage of serious labor abuses and with the Villagomez trial. We're seeing it now with Massage-Gate.

Self-serving politicians who bully the people and businesses to support their agendas in exchange for promises of jobs or contracts won't have much success in trying those tactics with the Variety.

I hope everyone who supports freedom of the press and wants to see an end to strong arm political antics will support this business by buying the paper daily and purchasing ads.


The Saipan Blogger said...

Fitial also banned Variety reporters from Covenant Headquarters on election night and the Inaugural Ball.

Wendy said...

Wow! That is so petty and uncool.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if ad contracts need to be awarded to the lowest bidder, or whether other procurement regs apply to them?

Anonymous said...

Don't we all expected that? "Vindictive" is the word. The contract workers and employees in "Marianas Variety" should be careful in everything that they do. Make sure that your permits are handy,etc .In addition, Tan's Newspaper will benefit more in this situation. I wonder what will the next "attack" be? Guess, anyone?

Anonymous said...

Fitial Administration, you voted for it, you got it! Vote for me or else. Support me or else. Or else no cushy government job where you sit on your butt and get paid. Or else no contracts for your businesses. Political blackmail!

the teacher said...

This criminal administration knows no other way to handle things other than rule by fear and intimidation. They either bribe, cheat, steal, threaten, or bully. He hires henchmen that threaten citizens and his messagee-gate is a local embarrass of national and international folly.

Someone was ignorant enough to suggest President Obama visit here...he will not visit here with gangsters running the CNMI.

Anonymous said...

That's not a surprise to me. That's how crooks work. Mind you, that's the reason why nurses and other contract workers in the government offices are so dumb silent!!!

Anonymous said...

What next? I predicte Ramon Mafnas tracking down IP's and beating up Covenant Party critics?

Anonymous said...

What's next? Fitial make find himself in a red jump suit like his masseuse. Enough already!

Anonymous said...

My Guess:

Politician: Ah well, we will have to investigate. Until then we can't say that somebody from DPH said that.

Guv's ally: That is not his doing. He is a very respectable man, a man of honor (horror?). He will not do such thing.

Business Owner: Leave me out of this. I don't like my business dragged into this mess.

Contract Worker: Oh no. I have to make sure that my name won't be mentioned or else his niece might give me a hard time on my permit.

malou berueco said...

this is the main and real reason why the voters here cannot vote wisely...afraid to lose their jobs or contracts with the government...same thing with the guest workers that are employed in government offices and foreign investors that have contract with them....
so little islands so many issues!

Anonymous said...

If the health department had a contract with the Variety and is now breaking it, can't the paper go after them?

Anonymous said...

Get Solly's girlfriend fired. Get McPhetres fired. Destroy a newspaper. Clear pattern. Who's next?

Anonymous said...

What are these ads that are being cancelled? Are they paid for with grant money? Are they public service ads that must be published? Will the public now be at risk?

Anonymous said...

Take out an ad in the Variety to show support:

the teacher said...

An American tragedy

Kings and Queens of the old world quelled dissenting thoughts, ideas, and opinions by restricting freedoms of speech and press. Third world countries still employ that strategy to control the masses and protect criminal elements influencing their governance. Americans must protect attempts to silence those precious freedoms.

The blatant attempt to target and retaliate against the Marianas Variety and staff is disturbing. Compliments are in order for the owner, editor, and writing staff of this newspaper for their courageous reporting even facing economic hardships and attacks on individuals by the administration and government of the US Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.

This community, a nation of free people, and the world should applaud the individual writers working at the Marianas Variety for their fearless reporting of the facts and accurate accounting of the historical record for the decent citizens of the CNMI.

We have a community accustomed to being ruled by fear, threats, and intimidation. Government workers, college students, and guest workers cry in anonymity, afraid to sign their family name. It is fitting and appropriate that Mr. Younis,the Publisher, Editor Zaldy Dandan, and MV reporters be honored with the nation’s most coveted award for journalism, the Pulitzer Prize.

Ron Hodges

Anonymous said...

The Pulitzer Prize? I don't think so. Zaldy Dandan should be given a electronic auto-correct version of "Gramar for Idiots". The MV should be given an indictment for unfair labor practises and an award for the lowest salaries paid to news reporters working in the USA. Teacher you need to travel off island a little more you seem to have island tunnel vision. You are also suffering from "A big fish in a little pond" syndrome. Other than that you seem ok.

Anonymous said...

Grammar for Idiots?

LongtimeSaipanlover said...

Marianas Variety is a sinking ship and will not last the remainder of the year. Don't waste your time reading, advertising or helping with stories for the worst paper in Saipan, and Guam for that matter. They write ludicrous stories to make sales, then when the repercussions come they cry foul!!!!

As for labor practices, they pay little to nothing and ask everything of their employees. Even on Guam. I heard they paid their writers $3 an hour on Saipan... And in Guam its only a bit better.... They are going down and I for one am glad after experiencing first hand Marianas Variety's horrible business and labor practices.

Go Saipan Tribune, at least they put some money into the paper, instead of hording it all in the family. Just look at the differences between the two. The Tribune just looks way more professional to start with, and when you dig deeper you'll see their writing is at least twice as good.

Roselyn Monroyo got the clue, and now you see she works for the tribune, a much better option.

Good Bye Marianas Variety and don't come back!!