Americans fear prospect of Koched-up news

Here’s a chunk I lifted directly from Nieman Journalism Lab’s Week in Review:

More pushback against the Kochs:

The news that the conservative billionaire Koch brothers are talking about buying the Tribune Co.’s newspapers (which include the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times*) came to the fore last week, and opposition to the move continues to bubble up. Kathleen Miles of The Huffington Post reported that in a show of hands at a recent meeting there, about half of the L.A. Times newsroom said they’d quit if the Kochs bought the paper. (Tribune columnist Rick Kogan didn’t see the same sentiment at his own paper.)

The Times also reported on three L.A. city councilmen who threatened to pull city pension money from the investment firms who currently own the paper if they sell to the Kochs.

The Newspaper Guild-CWA called for the Times to only sell to a buyer that will commit to preserving the paper’s objectivity, while locals in south Florida have circulated an online petition against Koch ownership of a Tribune paper there. At the Times, David Horsey urged L.A. residents to rise against Koch ownership there. Craig Aaron of the media reform group Free Press called on readers of Tribune Co. papers to do the same across the country, but said the best (though extremely unlikely) solution would be breaking up the chain in favor of local ownership.

Forbes’ Daniel Fisher wondered why the Kochs might think the deal might work well from a business perspective (it won’t), while at USA Today, Michael Wolff did the same with their potential for political influence. Those papers’ influence would be limited to their cities, Wolff said, none of whom seem to be clamoring for a loud conservative media voice. “Other than a few editorials tilting to their views, it is hard to imagine how they get a new conservative national voice to rise from Los Angeles, Chicago, Hartford and Baltimore — or in Spanish,” he wrote. Jack Shafer of Reuters offered a similar caution to the Kochs, while also contending that they’re not the hard-right loons they’re being painted as.

Elsewhere, Michael Calderone of The Huffington Post gave some background on the Kochs’ dealings with the media — they generally refuse to talk until after an article about them is published, then complain loudly afterward. And Texas grad student Brian Baresch looked at some of the history of newspaper ownership driven by conservative ideology.

*
List of papers owned by Tribune Company according to wikipedia:
Burbank Leader, Burbank, California
Daily Pilot, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, California
Glendale News-Press, Glendale, California
Huntington Beach Independent, Huntington Beach, California
Valley Sun, La Cañada Flintridge, California
Coastline Pilot, Laguna Beach, California
Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California
Pasadena Sun, Pasadena, California
Hartford Courant, Hartford, Connecticut
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Orlando Sentinel, Orlando, Florida
Chicago Tribune and Redeye, Chicago, Illinois
Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland
The Morning Call, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Daily Press, Newport News, Virginia

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