On the heels of reports that “half” the staffers at the L.A. Times would resign if the paper was sold to conservative billionaires the Koch brothers, the Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America, a journalist labor union, have issued a statement declaring the pair unfit to own a newspaper.
At the end of April, reports on an in-house awards ceremony held at the Los Angeles Times revealed that half the staffers in attendance claimed that they’d instantly resign if their paper was sold to Charles and Bill Koch, the brothers who have funded many conservative and libertarian causes.
It wasn’t long until the Newspaper Guild released a statement urging the paper’s owners to refuse to sell to the Kochs, claiming that the brothers “breed distrust” because of their “harsh right-wing positions.”
Naturally, none of these “harsh opinions” were detailed but were taken for granted–an interesting position to take for a group claiming to have “integrity” in reporting.
Recently you’ve seen many petitions asking that the Koch brothers not be allowed to buy the Tribune Company’s newspapers. We understand why the Kochs breed this distrust. They are active political proponents of harsh right-wing positions. We’re also not certain that Tribune will listen to anything but money when the final decision is made.
What we do know is that great papers publish credible, trusted journalism online and on the printed page. Whoever comes to own these mastheads needs to understand that protecting newsrooms from ideological taint is no small thing. The future of American journalism depends on the ability to print truth, not opinion.
We call on Tribune to make a pledge that they’ll only sell to a buyer that will protect the objectivity of the news product by making a public commitment to doing so. The Newspaper Guild-CWA and the Communications Workers of America seek your support in this goal.
Interesting also that the newspaper union seems to think that there is no “ideological taint” already at the Times.
Of course, the history of newspapers in America is replete with owners using their papers as a vehicle for political gamesmanship. Early in our Republic, for instance, politicians published their very own newspapers to push their political campaigns. As time went on, papers chose parties or candidates not just to endorse but for whom to advocate.
In 1940, a group of magazine and newspaper publishers actually formed an alliance to nominate Wendell Willkie as the GOP nominee for president against Franklin D. Roosevelt. Once a self-professed liberal Democrat, Willkie turned Republican just in time for the campaign and didn’t really offer anything different from FDR.
As time wore on, it became common in most big cities to have one paper that supported Democrats, one that was the Republican paper, and perhaps even one that was nearly socialist in outlook.
With all that rich history of political advocacy, it is laughable that the newspaper guild, started in 1933, would make the claim that newspapers are free from “ideological taint.”