Freedom of the Press–When You Own One

“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”– A.J. Liebling

Rob Davis of reports on the new owner of his local daily:

Doug Manchester, the new owner and publisher of the San Diego Union-Tribune, wants his new media outlet to be a booster.

The newspaper’s new CEO, John Lynch, made that clear in an interview with me after Manchester bought the paper November 17. Lynch said he wanted the newspaper’s sports page to advocate for a new Chargers stadium and call out opponents as obstructionists. He’s since revisited those remarks, telling a Union-Tribune reporter that he was “acutely aware” of the importance of an independent newsroom.

Lynch’s original comments are in line with how many media owners have viewed local sports, as Neil deMause reported in Extra! in 1999. And as FAIR noted in 2001, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was editorially opposed to building a new baseball stadium–that is, until their parent company got a stake in the team. Why go to the trouble of owning a newspaper if you don’t use it to advance other business interests?

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.