Dwight Jaynes Flunks Media Literacy, Too

by Steve, September 28th, 2007

schoolsI don’t know where to start with this. On one hand, Dwight Jaynes, as a sports columnist, can be forgiven for the wry and ironic tone he takes when he says “If my high school could get enough money for naming rights – and I’m talking millions here – it could go ahead and dump that Cleveland name and call it something else.” He can’t be serious. (Or can he?)

But as executive editor of the Portland Tribune, you’d think maybe he’d know he should cite his sources. I didn’t see him at the school board meeting Monday night, and reading his column, it looks like maybe he cribbed from me, just a little. Not to mention the Oregonian and Rick Seifert’s The Red Electric. Why do I think he cribbed from me? Nobody used the term “slippery slope” but me, as far as I’m aware, and Jaynes uses it twice in his column.

Okay, you can forgive his flip tone — it’s a sports column, after all — but when he talks about “some people,” it would be nice if he would identify them as respected members of society who have formed a coalition, the Coalition for Commercial-Free Schools, who are asking first and foremost for a comprehensive policy to define just exactly “how much is too much.”

But Jaynes takes the intellectually lazy approach of deriding “some people” who are afraid of Blazers logos in our high school gyms, and conveniently avoids the policy issue at hand. PPS is not “trying to figure out whether to accept an offer from the Portland Trail Blazers to refinish gymnasium floors in 10 of our schools,” as Jaynes states in his lead. They voted Monday to expand existing policy to allow it.

This policy expansion allows any kind of advertising to be sold on any surface of our athletic facilities in every school in the district, at the discretion of the superintendent. Could we have Mountain Dew and Frito ads on elementary school gym floors and walls? Yes, under current policy, we could.

But this doesn’t seem to bother Jaynes. “You think your kids aren’t bombarded with advertising 24 hours a day, anyway?” he asks. Hell, Dwight, why not sell ads in text books and on chalkboards? I know your salary is paid by advertisers, but even you should agree we need to have limits here. We can debate how far to go, but we need some kind of policy in any case.

“Unless you have a plan that will provide funding to improve these situations, you better listen to anyone who wants to help – if you are serious about wanting your schools improved,” writes Jaynes. Well, I’ve got a plan; it’s called fully funding our schools. Starting with a partial repeal of Measure 5 for non-owner-occupied properties, and a restoration of corporate income taxes. Corporations have been getting huge windfalls in the wake of the “taxpayers revolt” of the ’90s, and they shouldn’t get ads in exchange for ponying up a small fraction of that windfall now.

I’m not opposed outright to corporate donations in our schools, but we do need a clear policy regulating the types of ads we can accept, where they can be placed, and a way to determine real market value of them. Jaynes thinks $600K is fair for placing prominent corporate logos in front of tens of thousands of captive eyeballs in an ideal demographic, essentially in perpetuity. I’m thinking the Blazers are getting the best value they’ve ever got for a media buy.

And Jaynes doesn’t get that. He, like the school board, flunks media literacy. I guess I expect more from a fellow Winter Hawks fan.