The South Florida Business Journal is reporting that Howard Greenberg has been promoted to publisher of the Sun-Sentinel while former publisher Robert Gremillion moves up the corporate ladder to oversee four Tribune newspapers.
I don't like it. Gremillion -- who will now be the corporate overlord of the Sun-Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant, and Baltimore Sun -- usually managed to strike a balanced tone between the business and editorial sides of the newspaper. Greenberg, on the other hand, is one of the biggest schmoozers in Broward County and is tied at the hip with the Chamber of Commerce and the Broward Alliance, a group of business leaders out to influence elected officials led by builder Terry Stiles. Here's a key passage from a ditty I wrote concerning Greenberg back in 2004:
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In the most recent edition of the [Broward Alliance] newsletter, a front-page color picture includes Sun-Sentinel Vice President Howard Greenberg. With dark slicked-back hair and a fecal grin, he's hamming it up with Broward County Mayor Ilene Lieberman, among others. Greenberg, who has served as circulation chief and development director for the newspaper, is currently the alliance's vice chairman and has long sat on the group's board. The Sun-Sentinel is also a member of the Alliance's Investor Council.
It gets worse. In the newsletter, Greenberg is quoted about his recent meetings with county officials on behalf of the alliance. The meetings are "allowing us to gain the trust and respect of each commissioner," Greenberg says, adding that they are also "putting all of us on the same page from a priorities standpoint."
Wait a second -- is the Sun-Sentinel supposed to be on the "same page" as our elected
officials? So much for the Fourth Estate.
This match made in journalistic hell doesn't guarantee that the alliance won't get any bad ink in the Sun-Sentinel. That's just the way it has worked out. Take this April 16, 2003, editorial (please): "The Alliance is jettisoning go-it-alone efforts in areas such as small business development and international business. Instead, it plans to aid similar efforts by the chambers of commerce and groups like the International Business Council... The Alliance... simply does not have the resources to be all things to all people."
It's true, little Johnny, it can't be all things to all people. Now buck up, wipe those eyes, and always remember: The good people at the alliance are always on your side.
Greenberg didn't return my calls, but Kevin Courtney, the Sun-Sentinel's communications director, insisted that the V.P. has nothing to do with the editorial board. Courtney insisted there is a firewall between the circulation and editorial departments that is as steadfast as the one between church and state.
Well, with the president's faith-based initiatives, that's not saying much anymore. And here's a fact: The Sun-Sentinel has never criticized the alliance or examined its public funding.