Dwight Jaynes Flunks Media Literacy, Too

by Steve, September 28th, 2007

I 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.

9 Responses to “Dwight Jaynes Flunks Media Literacy, Too”

  1. Comment from Terry:

    What do you expect? After all, Dwight Jaynes is, in many respects, an idiot.

  2. Comment from PHIL:

    Dwight is right – the schools should accept what they can from the Blazers who are a PORTLAND. Raising taxes on NOO properties?? How do you explain that one? raising taxes on corporations who provide jobs in the area – another bone head suggestion. Corporations need tax breaks or they will move to a city that will provide them. Raising taxes is not a solution to everything as you suggest.
    Dwight is FAR from being an idiot. He has been around Sports in Portland for a 30+ years.

    You might not agree with what he says which is fine, but raising taxes on bike riders who want to be part of the road is the way to go. Bike riders should have insurance which can be taxed and they should have to pay a tax to ride on the roads they use.

    Problem solved and the right people are being taxed.

    Leave the corporations alone – they give people jobs and pay taxes.

  3. Comment from Wacky Mommy:

    I hate that, too. Someone’s always picking on those poor corporations.

    “…the Blazers who are a PORTLAND.” What? A PORTLAND what? This is a hockey site, dude. Basketball is for wusses.

    I’m being serious now — what do you think of the kids getting their faces permanently tattooed with Blazers logos? We could probably get five bucks apiece for that, and I bet the Blazers would pay for the tattoo artists’ fees. We got, what, 46,000 kids in the district — five bucks apiece = loads of cash.

    Who’s in?

  4. Comment from Zarwen:

    Seriously, Wacky Mommy, as much as I am reluctant to point it out, Phil is unfortunately right about one thing: corporations will always move to where the tax breaks are. Let’s not forget why Columbia Sportswear moved out of town some years ago.

    While I agree about a policy being desirable to avoid the “slippery slope” thing, it seems to me that corporate logos are doing less damage to the schools than corporate “education grants” a la Bill Gates.

  5. Comment from Zarwen:

    PS Since I’m on the subject, I’d like to suggest that these corporate logo agreements be structured similar to a lease—that they be installed in such a way that they can be removed when the lease is up, unless the parties agree to renew the lease. If I understand correctly, I think that’s how billboards usually work. Otherwise, a reasonable lease period should coincide with the lifespan of whatever the logo is on, and the fee (or “donation”) should be competitive with the market rate for a lease of that length.

  6. Comment from Wacky Mommy:

    PHIL! is not right, IN MY HUMBLE OPINION. (Geez, caps lock really *is* fun, isn’t it? Maybe I should caps lock everything and put it in bold, too. Subtle!) In your humble opinion, you believe he is right and corporations move if they don’t get their way, if they have to pay too many taxes, nyah, nyah, “you’re being mean! We heard Oregonians were ‘cool’ and didn’t have to pay taxes!” etc. The way I see it is that Portland is a lovely place to live, and we are lucky to be here. We need to give something back. I like give and take, it’s a gorgeous thing.

    There are lots of long-time corporations (and small and medium-sized businesses) that are happy to be here, it’s not like everyone is bailing.

    The phrase “slippery slope” needs to go in the trashcan. I don’t like whoring out our public schools and our kids. I don’t like when I show up for “Community Care Day” at my kids’ school and wow! We all get a free Loew’s t-shirt! And wow! How cool is *this*? Loew’s gets all the credit because they’re involved and “care.” They care a lot. Doesn’t the t-shirt I’m wearing (advertising their stores) show that?

  7. Comment from Steve:

    PHIL, like Jaynes, misses the point. Whether or not we accept the Blazers’ corporate branding purchase (we already accepted it, so that is moot), we need a comprehensive district policy defining exactly what kind of ads we can sell, where they can be placed, and how much they should cost. We don’t have that, and that’s the problem.

    Regarding PHIL’s hysteria about corporations leaving Oregon if we make them pay their fair share of taxes, I’ll say this. Oregon ranks #10 out 50 for having a favorable business tax climate, according to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax research group based in Washington, D.C.

    Since Measure 5, our state revenue stream has not only become inadequate and unstable, its source has shifted dramatically from corporations onto individuals.

    Repealing Measure 5 for non-owner-occupied properties will not take us out of above-average status for favorable business tax environment, and will go a long way toward rebalancing corporate tax responsibility and restoring some measure of stability to our revenue base.

  8. Comment from Anne:

    Let’s talk about corporate tax breaks. In the 1980’s GM destroyed Poletown, a thriving, multi-cultural,working class neighborhood on the east side of Detroit, to build a “state of the art” manufacturing plant–GM Poletown. They were given massive tax breaks for their promises of economic revitalization. Many of the workers there were just transferred from other Detroit area plants, which were then closed. 20 years later the plant was closed, further devastating the city. I know this from my own experience there, not from a history book.
    So excuse me if I don’t bow down to the pimp corporations and thank them for prostituting our children. I don’t use these words lightly; the analogy is too, too clear. The Big Daddy corporations beat us down, threaten if we ask our fair share, benefit from tax breaks and then expect to be thanked and have our children wear their logos when they help build a basketball court or refurbish a playground? This is chump change to them, a small price to pay for not paying taxes and destroying our children’s lives.
    I will repeat this until the day I die: until the people on the bottom, the people who work for a living unite to turn this capitalist system around we will continue begging for crumbs.
    In terms of immediately improving our children’s lives: rather than kiss up to a corporation , it would do us all a lot of good to go to a School Board meeting to support the PPS custodians in getting a fair wage. Actions like this will help build a movement and insure a better future for our children more than being sycophants to the corporations. (hint: Monday, 10-8 the PPS School Board will vote on the custodian’s contract and the word is it is a continuation of the illegal union-busting they have been doing for years.)

  9. Comment from Steve:

    Spot on, Anne. These corporations have reaped huge windfalls from Measure 5, and they get further tax breaks when they “donate” to our schools in exchange for their ads. It’s tax-deductible advertising, and the district is happy to pimp out our kids for these crumbs.

    What the district is trying to do to the custodians is outrageous. I’m going to try to get a post up about this soon.

    While we pressure the school board, let’s also start talking about pressuring the Democratic-controlled state house to do something about our broken revenue stream. If we were fully funding our schools, the board wouldn’t be in such a weak position when the Blazers come in looking for cheap ads in their ideal demographic.