OMG! WTF, Statesman Journal? It was only a matter of time before Salem’s only daily newspaper was found worthy of being an OMG! WTF? It could have been over its lack of coverage on subcommittee issues with the Courthouse Square Solutions Task Force, pink bags, or the constant barrage of faith-based opinions in their editorial pages. But no, what’s drawn the attention of OMG! WTF? is the SJ’s abrupt about-face on Seaport Airlines.
Anyone paying attention was a little more skeptical than the daily newspaper about the future of the Salem airport. Should it provide commercial airline support? Sure. Is right now the best time to be dumping more money into the airport? Probably not. Experts are saying that the travel economy is geared toward staying close to home. People aren’t going to take the luxury flight from Salem to Portland if they don’t have to. The economy may be recovering, but how many business people can spend $60 for a commute to Portland, where they won’t necessarily have a vehicle? Empty seats equal no airline.
SJ immediately jumped on the bandwagon of the victory of having another commercial airline available in Salem. The following was written in a SJ editorial blog: “This is more than a matter of civic pride. Ease of travel is one factor in helping a community attract conventions, tourism, business development and other economic opportunities. The city of Salem has been wise to upgrade its airport in recent years and to initially waive the city’s landing and rental fees for SeaPort.”
Was there greater demand from potential airline passengers? Any signs that the airline world has changed since United and Horizon Air? Who knows? What you can find is plenty of video and photos of SeaPort’s first trip and a lot of cheerleading about how great it is that the airline is coming to town. It was all sunshine and rainbows from the daily.
It just as quickly lashed out at the airline in its editorial pages when SeaPort pulled out of Salem. It immediately decried SeaPort making a business decision to leave and complained about SeaPort not responding to an editorial request for an interview. In doing so, it negated its entire editorial opinion, without mentioning the fact that it was so, so wrong.
In its editorial response to the airline’s exit, they wrote: “If there’s any lesson in the SeaPort debacle, it’s that — before waiving airport fees or offering guarantees — the community should be darn sure the airline’s plans are viable. Short-lived service is worse than no airline service.”
But, but … it was a wise thing to do three months ago. Now it’s the City of Salem that needs to learn something from this mistake? The mistake that was heralded as wise? How about applying this newfound lesson to every business that’s recruited with subsidies? Neither the City of Salem nor SJ could prevent the airline from leaving. What SJ could do, however, is to take responsibility for a poor editorial decision out in the open. OMG! WTF, Statesman Journal?