The journalism of reprinting MVA news releases in a newspaper

By Mabel Doge Luhan

Maybe at my age, I’m getting loopy. Maybe it’s the shot of laudanum I’ve been adding to my morning swig of Scott’s Emulsion. But I just can’t seem to understand the Saipan Tribune!

On October 19th — just before the “editor” of the competing newspaper took the day off on Hitler’s half-birthday (ENTIRELY COINCIDENTAL) — the Tribune ran an article entitled “Korea’s No. 1 travel agency suggests the Marianas this season.”

Naturally, the Saipan Tribune is a newspaper, so it publishes newsworthy stories, in addition to acting as the guardian of the public interest. Apparently, the news of a travel agency “suggest[ing] the Marianas this season” is newsworthy, at least as newsworthy as the latest update on how fast the Tribune owner’s daughter can run! It should go unsaid that the Tribune acts in the interest of Saipan’s public. In that capacity, even if it is offered press releases or free content, it should print them only when doing so is in the public interest.

My opium-laden brain is just unsure of why this self-promoting press release from MVA is newsworthy and in the public interest. In my days as a cub reporter on the falconry beat, I would’ve jumped on this press release — not to print it verbatim, but to notice how ridiculous it is, and tell my readers all about it.

Instead, the Tribune gives us a verbatim reprint, with no commentary, and certainly no criticism.

Really? It’s newsworthy that a travel agency “suggests” the CNMI as a travel destination, as it also “suggests” a million other destinations? Does the Honolulu Civil Beat run a news story to report that some travel agency “suggests” Hawaii as a travel destination? 

What is the pubic benefit of printing a paragraph-long listing of various tour packages available to Saipan? Is the Tribune unaware of its audience for the most part being already in Saipan? The odd term “light aircraft” suggests that this laundry list was directly translated from the original Korean marketing materials. 

The kicker, though, is this line:  “Both travel agency promotions are supported by the MVA.” Yes, that means public funds are going to “support” these Korean tour agencies and travel providers: millions of dollars that could go to needed services, or be refunded to taxpayers, is going to enrich Korean tour agencies and travel providers. At least we all know that Korean tour agencies and travel providers never, ever pay kickbacks.

Isn’t there a story sitting right there for you, Saipan Tribune? Pretty much screaming for you to run?  Hello? Does my hearing aid need a recharge, or is the Saipan Tribune chronically asleep at the journalistic wheel?


Mabel Doge Luhan is a rootless cosmopolitan and a woman of loose morals. She resides in Kagman V, where she pursues her passions of crocheting, beatboxing, and falconry.

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