Cosmopolitan Bias: Alabama Papers that Endorsed Democrat Doug Jones Really Part of New York City Owned Media Empire

On Sunday the Alabama Media Group placed an above-the-fold editorial in the state’s three largest newspapers which it owns–the Birmingham News, Mobile’s Press Register, and the Huntsville Times–and its al.com website, urging voters in the state to support the liberal Democrat Doug Jones over the conservative Republican Roy Moore in the December 12 U.S. Senate election “to stand for decency.”

The Alabama Media Group is wholly owned by Advance Publications, the New York City-based media giant controlled by the descendants of S. I. Newhouse, who founded the company in 1922.

Forbes magazine lists Advance Publications as one of the 200 largest privately held companies in the country, with $2.4 billion in revenues and 9,000 employees in 2016.

The company owns Conde Nast Publications, which includes Vogue, Vanity Fair, and GQ magazines, as well as 25 local newspapers around the country, including the three in Alabama and the Cleveland Plain Dealer in Ohio (cleveland.com), the Syracuse Post-Standard in New York, the Star-Ledger in New Jersey (NJ.com), the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Oregonian (oregonlive.com), among others.

The Alabama Media Group’s Editorial Board, which made the decision to run the attack editorial against Judge Roy Moore, is headed up by the company’s president, Tom Bates, and vice president of content, Michelle Holmes.

Neither Bates nor Holmes have lived in Alabama for more than five years.

The 48-year-old Holmes was born in Indiana, educated in California, and worked for a San Francisco based social media company before Advance Publications selected her to run the editorial side of the Alabama Media Group in 2013.

“Holmes was a 2012 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, focusing on journalistic innovation. At UstreamTV, she was responsible for content partnerships with some of the world’s largest media companies. Previously, she was editor of both the SouthtownStar and Joliet Herald-News in Chicago, where she led award-winning staffs on the south side and suburbs of Chicago,” the al.com announcement of her appointment said.

“I believe in the role of journalism as an agent for change. I am firmly committed to aggressive pursuit of all available channels to help a new and modern kind of news culture thrive, and I’m wowed by what digital media advances offer the news and culture landscape of the 21st century,” Holmes said of herself at Levo.com and on her LinkedIn profile.

Bates has an even more tenuous connection to Alabama.

Advance Publications selected him to run Alabama Media Group just two years ago in 2015, when the University of Virginia graduate was living in Atlanta, Georgia.

Bates “founded the home services site Kudzu.com, led the daily operation of Cox’s 60 local websites, and ran USA TODAY’s International Edition. Most recently, he was an Entrepreneur in Residence at Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center and a digital adviser to Raycom Media, investing in video start-ups,” according to the al.com announcement of his appointment.

The Alabama Media Group endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential election, who was soundly defeated in the state by Donald Trump, 63 percent to 35 percent.

“We’re with Hillary Clinton. Frankly, Donald Trump’s dangerous,” the Alabama Media Group’s endorsement of the candidate who lost the state by 28 points said on October 9, 2016 at al.com.

The Alabama Media Group “includes The Birmingham News, Mobile’s Press-Register, The Huntsville Times, the Mississippi Press, AL.com and gulflive.com. The company launched on Oct. 1 of [2012], and delivers printed editions of each newspaper three days a week, while publishing news 24/7 online at its websites.”


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