The terms “above the fold” and “below the fold” is a reference to the middle of a newspaper page where the paper is “folded” for sale.
On Sunday, November 4, 2018 the Albuquerque Journal published a “guest editorial” submitted by Mayor Tim Keller on page A-17 and “below the fold.”
Given the serious content of the letter, it merits publishing on this political blog for further commentary and anlysis:
TITLE: The Tide Is Turning Against Crime In Albuquerque
By Tim Keller / Mayor of Albuquerque
Sunday, November 4th, 2018
“When I ran for mayor of Albuquerque, I knew crime was the biggest challenge facing our city. Nearly a decade of rising crime took a toll and left many feeling unsafe and resigned, like we had lost our city.
On Day One, we took a stand and said this is unacceptable. My administration’s top priority is tackling crime from all sides. While we have a long road ahead, I am grateful to report that we are beginning to see signs of progress.
First, we got our own house in order. We brought on leaders with the experience and integrity to change the culture at the Albuquerque Police Department. Our new Chief of Police Michael Geier and team are committed to a block-by-block approach to constitutional community policing.
With the right leadership in place, APD began strategically tackling crime, empowering its officers to get back to the heart of policing: proactive enforcement like traffic stops and auto theft stings that lead to catching perpetrators of more violent crimes. Officers are connecting with communities on foot, on bicycle and through re-opened substations. We worked with businesses and neighborhoods to create the first permanent Downtown Public Safety District.
Under our administration, we’re committed to keeping the public informed, so we began releasing quarterly crime statistics. Though crime is still unacceptably high, for the first time in years trends are heading in the right direction compared to this time last year:
• Auto theft down 28 percent
• Auto burglary down 35 percent
• Commercial burglary down 18 percent
• Residential burglary down 14 percent
• Robbery down 39 percent
Some violent crimes have gone down but rates are still too high. For example, homicides are down 6 percent from last year, but last year was a record high. Also, our city experiences too many violent crimes tied to firearms, including a 14 percent rise in non-fatal shootings. In response, we doubled the number of homicide detectives and took advantage of gun ballistics tracking. Our police department is committed to taking allegations of sexual assault seriously and clearing the backlog of untested rape kits.
Addressing the underlying causes of crime, including addiction, behavioral health and a lack of opportunity is key for the long term. We have a comprehensive plan to address homelessness that includes maximizing investments in treatment, housing and mental health. We’re keeping kids out of trouble with expanded youth programs, and making parks and playgrounds safer through our SHARP program which properly disposes of used needles discarded in public places. Albuquerque Fire Rescue is stepping up with innovative public health initiatives and proactive prevention efforts.
I personally promised we would own police reform, and we are making significant progress. The latest monitoring report acknowledges the breadth of changes and commitment to finishing the job of meeting DOJ requirements. Our strategies must also reflect the needs and concerns of women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community, and we continue to improve our police policies to reflect these perspectives.
All of these steps are bringing quality officers to APD. We have 29 additional officers who came from other departments, with two lateral classes in the pipeline and 34 cadets on track to graduate in December. Reaching our goal of adding 400 officers over the next four years will take all-hands-on-deck recruitment, and finally help is on the way.
The tide is starting to turn, but there is a long journey ahead. To get there it’s going to take all of us working together as One Albuquerque. We need your help and have hundreds of ways you can work to help the city we love. Let’s finish the job together.”
“Get involved at https://www.cabq.gov/mayor/community-engagement.”
ALBUQUERQUE’S HIGH HOMICIDE RATE
Mayor Keller down played Albuquerque’s homicide rate in his letter when he said “homicides are down 6 percent from last year, but last year was a record high” and he went on to disclose APD has doubled the number of homicide detectives in response.
On the very day after Mayor Keller’s opinion column was published, the front page of the Albuquerque Journal reported that APD had the sixth officer-involved shooting this year and it was the fourth fatal officer-involved shooting.
There were 6 more murders in the first quarter of 2018 compared with 2017 which was a 50% increase.
Homicides have now dropped the first half of 2018 by 18% compared to last year.
A detailed breakdown of Albuquerque’s crime rates for the years 2017 and 2018 can be viewed here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
To political observers, the placement of an article involving an elected official “above the fold” versus “below the fold”, either on the front page or in a section of the paper is an indication of a newspaper’s desire to call more attention to the conduct of the elected official.
Above the fold articles involving elected officials get more attention and read more than below the fold articles.
Three cases in point: former Mayor Richard Berry, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez and Mayor Tim Keller.
Mayor Keller’s guest column was published with a 6 inch by 4-inch full color photo of the APD’s Horse Patrol Unit above and overshadowing his guest opinion column.
The placement of the photo resulted in the Mayor Keller’s column being published “below the fold”.
On the same page, above Keller’s letter, the Albuquerque Journal ran a guest editorial comment on “gardening” from George Ball, the past president of The American Horticultural Society in Washington, D.C., giving it a full “above the fold” banner headline that read “Red States and Blue States Are Both Green Inside.”
The last two sentences of Mr. Balls’ column read:
“The Republican is a brightly-colored, green-bean, elbows on the table, fence-building, vine-loving, sweet-hankering gardener, while the more passionate, basil-snipping Democrat picks and chooses from a wider range of cultivars of spicy and savory flavors, European imports, and pastel flowers that prefer afternoon shade cast by mature trees.”
“Let’s rejoice that there are 50 states where we make up a mosaic of myriad gardeners and gardens – daring and edgy blue or tried and true, traditional red. In the end, we are all still deep in the green.”
You can read the full guest column regarding the “fence building” Republican gardener versus the “European imports” Democrat gardener with the hope you can read it without laughing:
During the last two years while he has been in office, Democrat District Attorney Raul Torrez has ingratiated himself with the Albuquerque Journal.
Torrez has graced the front pages of the Albuquerque Journal repeatedly, especially when he sharply criticized District Judges for being soft on crime and releasing accused defendants instead of holding them in jail until trial.
Torrez went so far last year to accusing the judges as the main reason for Albuquerque increase in crime.
Criticizing judges has become a standard practice for the Albuquerque Journal on its editorial page and no doubt they see District Attorney Raul Torrez as an “up and comer” in politics, even if he is a Democrat.
When District Attorney Raul Torrez made a presentation before the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce on October 7, 2018, Torrez took all credit for the reduction in crime rates for the first time in eight years.
Torrez said the reduction in crime rates was a result of him focusing prosecutions on defendants with long criminal histories and implementing specific programs in his office.
The Albuquerque Journal gave Torrez above the fold coverage and included a nice color photo of Torrez in front of the State emblem.
Torrez made no mention and gave absolutely no credit to the Albuquerque Police Department, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department nor the New Mexico State Police for the reduction in crime and failed to mention it was these departments that made the arrests and put the cases together so his office could prosecute.
For the full 8 years Republican Mayor Berry was in office, the Journal did whatever it could to promote Berry and his policies, including the disastrous ART Bus project and giving steady front page coverage to Berry all the way up to the day he departed city hall.
On November 29, 2017, the very day before Berry left office, the Albuquerque Journal published a front page above the fold story with a full color photo of Berry entitled “It’s never a me thing” and an accompanying article boldly proclaiming “A hallmark of fiscal responsibility” with Berry saying the city was living within its means.
After the Journal proclaimed the Berry Administration “a hallmark of fiscal responsibility”, Keller found himself within one month of Berry leaving office dealing with a $40 million dollar city deficit that was resolved by the Albuquerque City Council with a gross receipts tax increase.
No doubt had former Mayor Richard Berry or District Raul Torrez submitted such an opinion piece as Mayor Keller did, it would have been published on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal with their picture or at least published it on the editorial page with a bold banner headline “HE DONE GOOD AGAIN AND DON’T YOU FORGET IT!”
The Albuquerque Journal has a strict policy that it enforces that it will not publish any individual’s guest column unless it is not more than 650 words.
Once a person’s column is published, that person must wait a full 90 days before the paper will consider publishing another column on a different topic and even then there is no guarantee it will be published, with the intent of the policy to prevent any one person from dominating the editorial page with comments.
Mayor Keller now has to wait 90 days before he can submit another column to be considered for publication
During that 90-day waiting period, Mayor Keller may want to consider stop swimming against the tide of the Albuquerque Journal’s “sea of black ink” and stop submitting guest columns that they will in all likely publish “below the fold”.
For a related blog article see: