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Former Vice President Al Gore, center, joins Gov. Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy at the signing of an executive order in Jersey City on November 19, 2019. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor.

Murphy gets loads of TV coverage for energy announcement

Building events around network TV affiliates helps governor gain attention despite declining daily newspapers

By David Wildstein, November 19 2019 6:35 pm

The most important takeaway of Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order that he would double off-shore wind power goals was the massive media turnout for his announcement with former Vice President Al Gore.

All five major television networks affiliates were there – about 20 TV cameras in total.

Murphy made it easy for TV: he scheduled the announcement in Jersey City, a geographically desirable location for New York TV.

While WNBC’S Brian Thompson has always aggressively covered New Jersey, that is less of the case with the CBS, ABC and FOX affiliates.  When Thompson covers Murphy, he eclipses the reach of the old-fashioned print media.

And with the addition of Gore, still a draw on environmental issues, reporters for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal — serious newspapers who don’t really care about the Real Housewives of New Jersey – covered Murphy today.

New Jersey’s governor appears to be taking his message to the electronic media with greater frequency these days.  He’s doing more national cable TV and seems to have stepped up his radio game. That will likely increase next month when he assumes the chairmanship of the Democratic Governor’s Association.

While Murphy’s policy announcement with Gore will be seen on TV news by millions in America’s largest media market tonight it’s already disappeared from the prime spots of newspaper websites.

Murphy’s clean energy initiative has already been knocked off the top of the northjersey.com website, replaced by the announcement that NJ Transit has hired Carmen Taveras as chief of real estate – and by a story about “the cult of the free, frozen ShopRite turkey.”

Coverage by the Star-Ledger, aka nj.com, is even tougher to find.

The story about Murphy and Gore was, at 6 PM, completely gone from their top stories page.

Instead, it’s moved near the bottom of the news page, to the right of “Marshmallow dreams come true insider this tiny sweet shop.”

The bottom line is this: Murphy could announce just about anything, and if Snooki buys a new pair of shoes, the governor disappears from the Star-Ledger website.

With the dramatic decline in readership for the state’s daily newspapers – The Bergen Record’s print circulation is down more than 70% since Gannett bough the paper in 206 — it’s been challenging for Murphy to become well known.

A Monmouth University Poll released in September showed Murphy’s approvals at 41%-38%, with 21% of the state having no opinion on his 21-month—old governorship.  Those numbers remarkably matched a Monmouth poll released in February.

New Jersey’s statehouse press corps population has also decreased amidst an era of media layoffs.  The recent acquisition of Gannett by GateHouse media will continue the trend of less reporters, editors and newspapers staff.

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