May 24, 2006
Who's afraid of the big bad Republicans?
Big national chains are bad, and local ownership is good, right?
Not necessarily. It depends on who the local parties are -- and whom you ask.
One sells cars and another hawks diet food. There are an ad man, an insurance broker, and a money manager.Local control is normally said to be a good thing. (Closer to the community, etc.) But in this case, there seems to be a political litmus test, and there are worries about whether there will be too much "influence." By Republicans. Two of them!
Local leftists are not too happy about it. Atrios warns of "bad times" ahead, links to Editor and Publisher's dire warnings of Republicanism, and concludes that "all signs point to scary." And in the most uncivil language possible, a local blogger slams the Inquirer's new CEO for being a Republican, and adds,
I guess itís up to us to disintermediate him so he loses his millions. It wonít be pretty.Not sure who "they" are, or how they plan to "disintermediate" him.
Bad and "scary" times ahead? The Inquirer has been struggling, and now it appears that it will survive. What is scary about that?
Is "scary" simply a synonym for Republican?
From what I can see so far, the staff doesn't appear to be terribly frightened. Editor Amanda Bennett describes herself as "not worried at all":
"Unlike the financial fight, maintaining journalistic integrity is a fight I know how to fight and everyone in this newsroom knows how to fight."She sure does. Ms. Bennett is one of the few editors in this country who bucked a very cowardly trend in her decision to publish the Muhammad cartoon. For this she faced down angry Muslim demonstrators, but refused to apologize.
And she's supposed to be afraid of a couple of Republicans?
Longtime reporter Larry Eichel, discussing the potential for influence by the new owners, doesn't seem frightened either:
The potential for the exercise of influence, whether real or perceived, goes beyond the businesses the investors run. They serve as directors of other corporations, on the boards of local nonprofit and cultural institutions. They have histories of political involvement.I grew up reading the Inquirer when it was in the hands of Walter Annenberg. A staunch Republican, he sold the paper to Knight-Ridder when President Nixon appointed him as Ambassador to England.
In a very thoughtful post, former Knight-Ridder employee Joe Gandelman remembers the good old days of the company, but raises questions about whether Knight-Ridder morphed into a Darth Vader style corporation which eventually cut the heart out of journalism. Joe links to this post by former Knight reporter Shaun Mullen:
Ridder, with the acquiesence of his Tweedledum board of directors, slowly bled the Daily News and Inky. Although there was not a direct cause-and-effect relationship, the circulations of both papers went into precipitous declines.And now, Darth Vader has put the paper back into local hands.
I'm glad the Inquirer will survive, and I think it's a good thing for for it to become an independent local newspaper again. I see no reason to expect to see any change in their editorial viewpoints, and I am sure I'll continue to have regular disagreements.
Nothing scary about it.
UPDATE: My thanks to Blinq's Daniel Rubin for linking this post in his excellent roundup of local bloggers' reactions. They're all well worth reading.
posted by Eric on 05.24.06 at 07:04 AM
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