News outlets who continue to refer to U.S. Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning, who formerly went by the name Bradley, using masculine pronouns after she announced that she identifies as female this week are drawing criticism from transgender advocates, raising the issue of how such news subjects should be covered.
Manning, who on August 21 was found guilty of crimes related to giving classified documents to Wikileaks, on August 22 released a statement through her lawyer which said in part: "As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female." Manning requested that "starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun."
In response, the GLAAD and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association each issued statements informing media outlets that they should use the name and pronouns that Manning prefers. But many media outlets have continued to refer to Manning as "Bradley" and describe her using male pronouns.
Rich Ferraro, a spokesman for the GLAAD, specifically singled out the Associated Press and Reuters, saying the group had reached out to these two news organizations and requested a correction in their approach going forward.
"Today our focus is on reaching out to them and asking for corrections," Ferraro said of A.P. and Reuters.
Ferraro also pointed out that he believes the AP had violated its own policy that states when reporting on transgender news subjects, "use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth."
AP and Reuters have not yet responded to requests for comment, but AP posted a statement on its website that said the service "will use gender-neutral references to Manning and provide the pertinent background on the transgender issue. However, when reporting is completed, the AP Stylebook entry on 'transgender' will be AP's guide."
The AP, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post on Thursday referred to Manning with a male pronoun throughout stories about her announcement Thursday morning that she wished to be identified as a woman and had wished to be called Chelsea, not Bradley.
"We would probably criticize the media overall," Ferraro said when asked about GLAAD's reaction to such references. "Chelsea Manning's announcement today and subsequent media judgment reflects a lack of education on covering transgender people. Media today should respect Chelsea Manning's announcement and that includes using female pronouns when speaking about her and that includes referring to her as Chelsea."
The New York Times coverage of the 2008 presidential race was "decidedly stereotypical," according to a new study, whose author fears a similar "gendered agenda" may occur in the 2016 race.
"At the aggregate level, what I found was that Clinton's gender was mentioned much more so than her male competitors and that she also received less issue coverage than her male competitors," said Lindsey Meeks, whose study appears in the September 2013 issue of the Journalism and Mass Communications Quarterly.
Meeks is a researcher and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington's Department of Communications whose area of specialty includes how the news media covers the gender of political candidates.
For the peer-reviewed study, Meeks performed a content analysis of a random sampling of New York Times coverage of Hillary Clinton from her official candidate announcement in January 2007 to her formal withdrawal in June 2008, as well as a random sampling of the Times' coverage of Sarah Palin from the announcement of her nomination for the vice presidency through Election Day.
Articles were coded for whether they used gender labels like "husband" or "mother" to describe Clinton, Palin, or their male opponents; whether the articles mentioned their positions on so-called "feminine" issues such as health care, education, women's rights, reproductive rights, and social welfare and "masculine" issues that included military/defense, crime, economy, and foreign policy; and whether the Times applied to each candidate character traits that are seen as "feminine," such as compassion, emotionality, honesty, altruism, and congeniality, or "masculine," such as strength, independence, aggressiveness, and confidence.
The University of Washington study discovered that the Times applied gender labels 6.5 percent more often to Clinton than to male candidates. It also said Clinton received significantly more gender label coverage than Barack Obama and John McCain. "Notably, the Times provided similar volumes of gender coverage for Clinton and Palin, 17.5% and 18.8%, respectively," the report said. "Thus, despite running for different offices, their gender was emphasized similarly."
Meeks concluded from the data that the Times was "upholding the news norm of focusing on how women are deviant in politics" and that while the emphasis "could be interpreted positively... news coverage of women's gender often sets a more negative tone and communicates to readers that women simply do not fit."
The report noted that the Times emphasized "masculine" issue coverage anywhere from two-and-a-half to five times more than "feminine" issue coverage. It added that "the most dramatic shift was for masculine issue coverage: from the first month to the rest of the election, Times masculine issue coverage of Clinton dropped in half, from approximately 58% to 28%."
Meeks writes that the focus on "masculine" issue coverage overall may have disadvantaged Clinton, stating that "the lower coverage of feminine content could have detrimental effects on women politicians' chances." She also points out that "skewing toward masculinity in news, coupled with the gender stereotypes found in society, can create a stereotyping cycle" that strengthens gender barriers for women.
The study also found that while Clinton and Palinreceived often contrasting tonal coverage, they received similar amounts of "masculine" and "feminine" trait coverage:
Clinton and Palin were very different. Clinton was seen as cold, calculating, and overly ambitious, whereas Palin was perceived as a concerned "hockey mom," known for her down-home, folksy mannerisms. Yet the Times gave these women virtually the same amount of feminine and masculine trait coverage. This suggests that no matter how different two women may be or how hard they try to portray themselves as distinctive, the press will most likely cast them in a similar mold.
A CNBC reporter is under fire for using the phrase "chink in the armor" during a Tuesday discussion of Wendi Deng's pending divorce from News Corp and 21st Century Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch.
The comments by CNBC's Robert Frank drew a critical response from the Asian American Journalists Association, which condemned the statements as "offensive" and "inappropriate."
Discussing whether Deng's new lawyer might be able to gain her a share of the Murdoch family trusts during the divorce case, Frank stated on CNBC's Power Lunch: "I wonder, you know, Peter, what do you think the chink in the armor here might be? That's what [Deng's lawyer] is so good at, is finding a chink in the pre-nups and all these trusts. What do you think they may be looking for to get more out of this divorce?"
Deng is a Chinese-born American citizen. She and Rubert Murdoch married in 1999 and have two children together. In June, Rupert Murdoch filed for divorce.
Contacted by Media Matters, Bobby Caina Calvan, media watch chair for the Asian American Journalists Association, said after reviewing the video that Frank used "an unfortunate phrasing and people should know better in this day and age that a phrase like that, that I'm not going to repeat, is offensive to many of us."
Acknowledging that the statement may have been "spoken innocently" and could have been part of an "off-the-cuff question," Calvan nonetheless added that "we would like CNBC and Mr. Frank to realize that the words uttered on air today about an Asian-American in the news were inappropriate in any context." He further stated that the "phrase shouldn't have been used, it is a no-brainer."
Reached for comment, a CNBC spokesman said any offensive connotation was "totally unintentional," declining to offer any additional explanation.
Calvan said AAJA has reached out to CNBC and was willing to help the network identify "words that many of us feel are offensive."
Veteran religion writers are offering harsh criticism of Fox News religion correspondent Lauren Green for making author Reza Aslan's Muslim background the focus of a recent interview about his new book on Jesus. They say that her suggestion that Aslan's faith might preclude his ability to cover the topic fairly was insulting and illogical, and seemed aimed more at playing to her audience's biases than informing them.
"Fox News knows the zeitgeist of its readership and understands what stokes the Fox audience's anger. Fox News is excellent at providing the tinder needed to make that blaze burn," Debra L. Mason, executive director of the Religion Newswriters Association, said in a statement to Media Matters. "I was not surprised so much by the interview because it seemed to fit the Fox formula perfectly. I would have been more surprised to see an interview that recognized what the vast majority of professional religion reporter specialists and the vast majority of scholars of religion believe: that one's personal faith generally has little bearing on the ability to be accurate in the study or reporting of religion."
She later added, "Reza Aslan as the author of a new book on Jesus should be judged on his credentials as a scholar, his experience with the topic, and on the soundness of his research, period."
That view was echoed by several religion writers and authors who reacted negatively to the recent interview in which Green repeatedly questioned why Aslan, as a Muslim, had authored the recently-released book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.
The first question Green asked during the FoxNews.com interview was, "You are a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?" She would repeatedly return to that question throughout the interview, and accused him of having "never disclosed" his faith during appearances on other programs.
When Aslan pointed out he is a "scholar of religions with a PhD in the subject" and studies the topic for a living, Green continued to question his background more than the book.
At one point, Aslan stated, "I'm not sure what my faith happens to do with my 20 years of academic study of the New Testament."
Aslan has a Ph. D. in the sociology of religion, a master's degree in theological studies from Harvard University, and a bachelor's degree in religion from Santa Clara University, as well as a master's of fine arts in fiction. He previously authored books on the history of Islam.
"If the accusation is that you have to be of a particular faith to write about it, I don't see the logic in that," said Abe Levy, a religion writer for the San Antonio Express-News. "Anyone can scrutinize a particular faith if they have studied it, you don't have to be of that particular faith. In my line of work, you want to have a deep respect for a particular religion, even if it is not your own, but you don't have to be of a particular faith to cover it."
Indeed, Green herself, a committed Christian, has repeatedly reported on Islam.
Several media outlets in Wichita, Kansas, say they have no problem running ads for a local women's clinic that performs abortions whose radio ads were rejected by Clear Channel Radio for their supposed "divisive" content.
At least four radio and print outlets in Wichita have run similar ads for the South Wind Women's Center with no report of complaints, according to those overseeing the outlets.
Sarah Anderson, communications director for the Trust Women Foundation, which runs the Wichita clinic, confirmed that two ads were removed from three local Clear Channel FM radio stations on July 2, one day after first being broadcast.
The ads, which can be heard HERE and HERE, employ innocuous content about the facility, including that it "was founded to reestablish full access to reproductive healthcare," provides "high-quality medical care" and features board-certified physicians with "over 50 years of experience and dedication."
According to Anderson, the foundation was informed that the ads had been pulled due to complaints to the station. Women, Action and The Media, a non-profit group that promotes women's rights and first reported the ads had been pulled, posted a statement reportedly issued by Wichita's Clear Channel General Manager Rob Burton this morning, which said: "As members of the Wichita community, KZSN has a responsibility to use our best judgment to ensure that advertising topics and content are as non-divisive as possible for our local audience."
But other media outlets in Wichita apparently believe that the center's ads are "non-divisive." Two music stations not owned by Clear Channel -- KFBZ, The Buzz 105.3; and KDGS, Power 93.5 - confirmed to Media Matters that they have agreed to run the ads.
Mark Yearout, sales manager for KFBZ and KDGS, stated: "They started in June on 105.3 and one will be on in August on 93.9, to my knowledge."
Both Yearout and KFBZ and KDGS General Manager Jackie Wise said the ads had drawn no complaints from listeners. "There has been none," Wise said.
Print ads for the clinic have also been published in the Liberty Press, a local lesbian and gay monthly newspaper, and the Wichita State University campus newspaper, The Sunflower, without complaints, according to staffers at both publications.
"We have been fine," said Liberty Press Editor Kristi Parker, who confirmed that the clinic's ad has been in the past two monthly issues and will be in the upcoming August issue. "I am kind of upset" at the Clear Channel stations, she later added. "I realize they have the right to do business with whomever they want, but it doesn't seem fair to single them out."
Detroit news reporters who've covered the city's fiscal problems for years say claims from conservative commentators that the recent bankruptcy is due to liberal agendas, federal policies, or even President Obama are wildly inaccurate.
Journalists, some with decades in the Motor City, contend such national coverage has missed the true cause of the financial debacle, which includes decades of population decline, mismanagement of city debt, and recent individual corruption.
By contrast, right-wing commentator and Detroit native Ted Nugent recently claimed that "Liberal democrats took hold of the greatest, most productive city on earth and turned it into a bloodsucker excuse-making hell," adding, "If allowed to continue, our President will do the same to the whole country. Heartbreaking and tragic."
Similar coverage from Fox News -- which misleadingly claimed other cities could fall into Detroit's bankruptcy path - and National Review's Rich Lowry, who tried to blame it on "a toxic combination of Great Society big spenders, race hustlers, crooks, public-sector unions, and ineffectual reformers," is misleading, local reporters say.
They contend that Detroit's problems are unique and driven by demography and decades-long trends, not ideology.
"I don't agree with that thesis," Jim Kiertzner, a reporter at ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV who has covered Detroit news since 1983, said about some of the conservative claims. "This was a city, like the auto industry, [where] in the heyday the money rolled in. When the decline started, nobody kept ahead of it and made the cuts necessary."
He added that the decline has "been in the making for decades. Detroit has been on a long steady decline."
Kiertzner and other reporters pointed to the population drop that began decades ago when wealthier families moved to the suburbs, reducing the population from 1.8 million in 1950 to 1.2 million in 1980 to only 701,000 in 2012.
Detroit-based journalists contend that drop reduced both job opportunities and city revenue, but with a rising maintenance cost because the city still had to pay for police, fire and other services. And with a 138-square mile area, one of the largest in the nation, the cost is vast.
"You have one of the largest areas that the police need to cover, the fire department, street lights, and keeping roads maintained and roads plowed," said Brett Snavely, a Detroit Free Press reporter covering the bankruptcy. "The cost of keeping this city maintained is fundamentally higher than in many cities."
With such rising costs and reduced revenue, the city of Detroit kept borrowing money and raising its debt, the reporters say. It also failed to pay into its pension fund properly, leading to the current situation in which city worker pensions are $3.5 billion in the red.
"The city didn't meet its obligations paying along the way, they gave the pensions IOU's, they are also looking at possible bad investments where they lost millions of dollars," says Kiertzner. "It wasn't just the employees, it is not a fair assessment to blame the unions."
Kathleen Gray, another Detroit Free Press reporter, added, "Its mismanagement, it's the downturn in the economy, it is not a single thing. We get a lot of [reader] feedback here that it is the liberal management of Detroit, but I don't agree with that assessment."
Charlie Langton, a reporter at WWJ News Radio and a 10-year Detroit journalist, said trying to link Detroit's situation to some outside influence is misleading.
"There is a combination of a couple of things, certainly mismanagement of the city's assets play a major role," he said. "For many years Detroit borrowed money to pay down its debt and Detroit lost a significant population."
Berman of the Detroit News said some of the problems were the result of the same sub-prime mortgage lending that hurt other cities, and even Wall Street banks continuing to lend Detroit money as its debt bloomed.
"The biggest mistake here is that no one tried to solve problems as they arose. They tried to paper over them, there was no problem solving, everything got pushed back," Berman said. "There was continued borrowing and there was no payback. They would shop the debt to Wall Street. You could blame Wall Street for not questioning that they were enablers, they gave them that credit. Why did Moody's write Detroit bonds?"
For Curt Guyette, news editor of the alternative weekly Metro Times, trying to blame liberal policies or some progressive approach is too narrow.
Rush Limbaugh's claim that it's acceptable for him to say "nigga" -- with the "a" at the end -- because some African-Americans have used that derivation of the racial slur drew strong criticism from several black journalists and commentators who called him "harsh" and a "bully."
"I just think this is not good," said Juan Williams, a regular Fox News commentator. "Obviously I think this whole level of conversation is pretty base and divisive. It's so harsh."
Gregory Lee Jr., president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said Limbaugh should know better.
"We don't use any other offensive words on the air, why is this okay?" said Lee, who is also South Florida Sun-Sentinel executive sports editor. "As a professional broadcaster, he should have a deeper understanding of why. He knows why, but he knows this will help pump money into his empire by saying things of this sort."
At issue is a comment Limbaugh made on his syndicated radio show July 16th, in which he reacted to a CNN interview with Rachel Jenteal, a friend of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and witness in the murder trial of George Zimmerman. Jenteal had testified at the trial about her phone conversation with Martin the night he was shot and killed by Zimmerman.
In the CNN interview, Jenteal was asked if there was anything she wished she had said at the trial, she answered that she wished she had said, "nigga" in her court testimony.
After he played an audio clip of the CNN interview Limbaugh stated:
This was between 9 and 10 pm last night on CNN, who is in a quest to become the, again, most respected news organization in the country, perhaps even in the world. So, "nigga," with an "a" on the end, well I think I can now. Isn't that the point? 'Cause it's not racist. That's the point. I could be talking about a male, a Chinese male, a guy at the Laundromat. I could be talking about a man. That's what she said it means.
Jenteal herself weighed in on Limbaugh's views today on Huffington Post Live, saying she thought his comments sounded racist.
Chicago Tribune editorial writer and syndicated columnist Clarence Page said Limbaugh used the word simply to provoke a reaction.
"This is just Rush playing his usual classroom bully role, trying to be provocative for the case of being provocative," Page said. "He is feeding the lame brains out there who just want to get mad at somebody."
Page added, "Racial etiquette is like any other etiquette, there is a proper time and proper people to use certain language with and other times there is not. The N-word is like any other obscenity, you use one kind of language around a bunch of sailors smoking and drinking, you don't use it in church. What makes it provocative is that there is hardly a word in the English language that is more provocative than the N-word."
Eric Deggans, media writer for the Tampa Bay Times and a frequent CNN commentator, said Limbaugh's claim is nothing new.
"It's an old conservative argument, black people use the N-word so we can use the N-word, I think that is nonsense," Deggans said. "Why do you even feel the need to want to use the word? There's plenty of black people who disapprove of the use of the N-word in any shape or form. Some conservatives say, 'well, black people don't say anything when black people use the N word,' and that is totally wrong."
Deggans later noted, "The thing to me about Limbaugh is that he has gone from being somebody who has highlighted the hypocrisies of liberals in a funny way to becoming a punitive person, a person who is a scold, who gets on the radio and this whole thing about the N-word, there is nothing funny about it or entertaining about it, it is just awfulness and harshness."
Roland Martin, the former CNN commentator and veteran media voice, agreed.
"I have always made it clear that I do not believe that the N-word should be used," Martin said in a phone interview. "It is a word, a hateful word that has been used against black folks for a long time." He said that debating it makes no sense: "When was the last time you saw Jews in this country having a debate, 'hmmm should we use the K-word?' or Hispanics debating, 'should we use the W-word?"
The Daily Caller would "gladly run" future opinion pieces from contributor Jack Hunter despite revelations this week of his past neo-Confederate and pro-secessionist views, a spokesperson said.
Asked if Hunter -- who has written more than 50 opinion pieces for the website in the past -- would be welcomed to write for the site again in the future, Daily Caller spokeswoman Nicole Roeberg stated via email: "He is welcome to submit an opinion piece, just like anyone else. Each piece would be judged on its own merit. If it adheres to our standards, we would gladly run it."
She also stressed: "Any submission which violates Daily Caller standards won't be accepted. Though Hunter has written many good pieces for us in the past, comments like those being talked about this week would not have met our editorial standards and would have been rejected."
The conservative Washington Free Beacon reported this week that Hunter, a "close aide" to Sen. Rand Paul who also co-wrote the Kentucky Republican's 2011 book, "spent years working as a pro-secessionist radio pundit and neo-Confederate activist. Hunter was a chairman in the League of the South, which 'advocates the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States from this forced union and the formation of a Southern republic.'"
The Free Beacon also quoted from Hunter's South Carolina radio commentaries, delivered under the pseudonym "The Southern Avenger," in which he expressed admiration for Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, indignation that white Americans are treated to a "racial double standard," and opposition to Spanish-speaking immigrants. Hunter reportedly "told the Free Beacon that he no longer holds many of these views," including his pro-Lincoln assassin views, but "declined to say that he no longer supports secession."
In an interview, Roeberg pointed out that Hunter had written just one piece for the Daily Caller since last August and that none of the previous articles were related to his controversial views. "He was an opinion writer, we have hundreds and hundreds of opinion writers, [and] he was never paid," she said. "All of his pieces were opinion pieces and we don't pay our opinion writers."
She later added: "None of his pieces that he ever wrote for us had anything to do with any of those views, they were all kind of just standard political issues that weren't super controversial. We never would have approved anything like that."
Roeberg said she did not know if Daily Caller editors knew about Hunter's past controversial views, adding that the news outlet had no other comment on the new revelations.
Hunter's Daily Caller archive includes more than 50 pieces written between August 2011 and May 2013, including numerous editions of a slickly-produced, Daily Caller-branded video commentary series, "The Deal with Jack Hunter."
His most recent Daily Caller piece, from May 6, was headlined, "Rand Paul shatters left-right paradigm, can help grow GOP." In his written and video commentaries, Hunter also promoted the candidacy of Sen. Paul's father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), whose 2012 presidential campaign he worked for as an "official campaign blogger."
In a February 2012 Daily Caller video, Hunter argued "that by firing Pat Buchanan, MSNBC, Media Matters and the Color of Change have undermined free speech." The Daily Caller noted that Hunter is "known by his radio moniker the 'Southern Avenger,'" and identified him as "a frequent guest on Fox Business" and the co-author of books by Sen. Paul and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).
The latest revelations about Hunter's neo-Confederate past brought a rebuke from one of Daily Caller's most well-known columnists, Matt Lewis, who wrote a piece on July 9 describing Hunter's comments as a "damaging staffer admission" and his past views as "very bad baggage." Lewis wrote that Hunter's presence on Paul's staff reflects poorly on the senator's "credibility and honesty -- to Paul's fundamental character."
Lewis did not mention Hunter's previous Daily Caller work and did not respond to a request for an interview.
A series of articles about one women's month-long experience owning a gun that was spiked by Ms. magazine after it sparked criticism from pro-gun activists will now be posted by the Daily Beast.
Daily Beast Senior Editor Harry Siegel would not say exactly when the series by freelance writer and gun violence prevention advocate Heidi Yewman would be posted, but confirmed it would run "presumably some time pretty soon," adding, "I think it's a good thing to run."
Ms. posted the first article in the series on June 12, which detailed Yewman's experience easily getting a concealed weapons permit and buying a gun without knowing how to use it. Three subsequent articles were set to run each following week detailing her experiences carrying and then disposing of the gun, but were canceled by the online outlet of the famed feminist magazine after the first due to outrage from pro-gun activists, Yewman said in an interview Monday.
"They ran the first one and they got a huge response, over 70,000 hits and over 2,000 comments immediately," recalled Yewman, who serves on the board of The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and is author of the 2009 book, Beyond the Bullet. "So it was overwhelming to them. They moderate their comments so it became an overwhelming situation for them and a lot of the comments were real negative, how I'm an idiot, how I'm stupid."
Yewman said she was contacted by Michele Kort, a Ms. editor, via email on June 17 and told the magazine was not getting the response it had expected and was cancelling further installments in the series.
"She emailed me and let me know they weren't going to run it because it was too overwhelming ... they weren't trying to attract guns rights guys and that's who they were seeing was commenting," Yewman said, noting many of the online comments were abusive. "I think that there were a lot more people looking at their site than the gun guys. I disagree with their editorial policy, but they get to do what they want to do."
Joe Nocera of The New York Times published excerpts of Kort's email in a blog post on June 21 that criticized Ms., stating, "Ms. published something the N.R.A.-types didn't like; they responded by bullying Ms. online, and Ms. folded."
UPDATE: After the publication of this post, Ms. issued a statement denying that they had "allow[ed] ourselves to be bullied by pro-gun commenters" and saying they had offered to post the remaining pieces but had not heard back from Yewman. In an interview with Media Matters, Yewman said that she was "disappointed" that it had taken Ms. so long to come to that conclusion and said she has "an exclusive" with the Daily Beast to run the rest of the series.
The conservative Columbus Dispatch has long been a force in local and state politics in Ohio. But in recent years, the newspaper's parent company has become a virtual media monopoly in Ohio's largest city and state capital, controlling not only the daily newspaper, but two radio stations, a television outlet and a long list of other weekly, monthly, and regional news sources.
"It's a one-newspaper town," said Dominick Cappa, editor of Columbus Business First, one of the few local publications not owned by the Dispatch. "They have the TV station, a radio station. Are they powerful? Hell yeah they're powerful because they have those outlets."
And the Dispatch's owners have used that media muscle to promote conservative causes and candidates, in particular the state's Republican governor, John Kasich. Publisher John F. Wolfe, CEO of parent company Dispatch Printing, and his wife, Ann, have spent more than $100,000 seeking to elect Republicans in state and out, with three dollars out of every ten going to Kasich's coffers.
The Dispatch's news reporting is the pride of Ohio; in recent years the paper has repeatedly been named the best newspaper of its size by the Associated Press Society, and its reporters typically clean up at that organization's annual awards presentation. In 2012, John Wolfe himself was given a special recognition award for "exemplary service to print journalism."
But critics say that the recent expansion of Dispatch Printing has created a near-monopoly in central Ohio, and point to the way the paper's editorial board has shielded Kasich to sound a note of alarm.
The increasing influence of the Wolfes comes during a period in which several right-wing moguls have been seeking to use mainstream media outlets to influence the political debate.
In December Media Matters profiled financier Douglas Manchester, a major Republican Party contributor who purchased the San Diego Union-Tribune and used it to cheerlead for right-wing politics and his own business interests. More recently, David and Charles Koch, major funders of the conservative movement, have reportedly considered buying the Tribune Company's eight regional newspapers -- which include the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune -- as part of their plan to shift the country to the right by investing in the media. Manchester has also considered buying the Tribune Company.
The Kochs also financially support the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a non-profit organization whose websites and affiliates provide free statehouse reporting from a conservative perspective to local newspapers and other media across the country.
The Wolfes' stranglehold on central Ohio's media grew substantially last September when the Dispatch Printing Company took over Columbus Media Enterprises from American Community Newspapers. That purchase added 12 specialty magazines to its arsenal, including Columbus Monthly and Columbus CEO, and Columbus Bride; Suburban News Publications, a string of 22 community weeklies that were subsequently merged with the company's 22-paper ThisWeek Community News group of weeklies; and The Other Paper, a feisty alternative weekly that had been known as a Dispatch watchdog.
Dispatch Printing already owned a variety of specialty publications including Columbus Alive, Columbus Crave, Columbus Parent, and Capital Style, along with two radio stations, the local CBS television affiliate (WBNS-TV), Ohio News Network Radio, which provides regular newscasts and sportscasts to 73 radio stations statewide, and Consumer News Services, a marketing company that distributes insert fliers via direct delivery bags.
Columbus has three other network television affiliates: WCMH, the NBC affiliate owned by Media General; WSYX, the ABC affiliate, and WTTE, the Fox affiliate, both owned by Sinclair Broadcasting.
But critics say that those outlets amount to little more than window dressing. "There is no competition," said Gerald Kosicki, a 26-year professor of communications at nearby Ohio State University. "You do only now have one voice. That is a concern to people."