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Posts Tagged ‘John Nichols’

Does the News Go Better With Koch? What a Takeover Could Mean for Journalism

In Blog on July 11, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Anyone who cares about journalism and democracy can find it difficult to be upbeat these days.  Money seems to dominate politics, giving billionaires the power to influence public policy debates and frame issues, affecting electoral and public policy outcomes.  The power of money is even greater when media properties are on the auction block.  At a time when the number of mainstream media outlets is shrinking, owning media properties means having a megaphone to get your message across, while those with opposing points of view can only whisper.  This is the opportunity that ownership of Tribune Company presents to any prospective owner.   An opportunity that seems tantalizing to the Koch Brothers.

David and Charles Koch have been masters of the free enterprise system. Koch Industries is the nation’s second largest privately held company, primarily operating in energy and related fields, with annual revenues of $115 billion, operating in nearly 60 countries.   The Kochs have become philanthropists with their fortunes, but many of their donations have been more than investments in the arts.  Their largesse has sustained an impressive network of think tanks fostering a pro-free-market anti-regulation viewpoint that is buttressed by generous donations to politicians who agree with them.  Much of the Koch money has been pretty invisible, but many nonprofits, and a few investigative journalists, have laid bare the architecture of the Koch money machine.

Now the Kochs may be on the cusp of acquiring a venerable if financially ailing engine of mainstream journalism in the U.S. – the Tribune Company.  I recently wrote about how I felt a Koch Brother takeover would be bad news for the Tribune Company and for journalism in general. Two weeks ago, the Newspaper Guild – Communications Workers of America, the union that represents journalists, sponsored a lively discussion exploring what a Koch purchase may mean for the future of journalism.

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