Thursday, May 09, 2013

Newspaper Readers Speak Out Against the Kochs

Opposition to the Koch Brothers' reported plan to take over eight Tribune Company newspapers has spread from activist groups, unions, lawmakers and journalism advocates to the readers of these papers.

Thousands in Los Angeles have pledged to unsubscribe from the Los Angeles Times should the deal move forward.

And the New York Times reported that news of the potential sale "is setting off a firestorm of opposition" in California. Ten public employee unions joined with state legislative leaders to oppose the sale of the Los Angeles Times to the wealthy industrialists.

In a letter to the chair of the Tribune Company Board of Directors, this group noted that the Koch brothers "have a history of promoting policies that are contrary to the retirement security of working people."

Also on Wednesday a coalition of activist groups (including Free Press) representing six million members signed on to a statement asserting that Koch ownership of Tribune papers would undermine the need for trustworthy news and information.

"Any news outlet owned by such intensely partisan activists could not be trusted to provide an honest account of a wide variety of issues that are of vital importance to the public," says the groups' letter. "The Koch brothers have worked for years to benefit their bottom line at the expense of everyday Americans."

Residents of Baltimore, Chicago, Hartford and Los Angeles are now signing on to Free Press' "Local News Pledge," which demands that the Tribune Company sell their papers to local owners who will:
  • Serve the news and information needs of each community, and not simply promote the owners political agenda.
  • Act as a watchdog against corporate abuse and political corruption.
  • Hire more local reporters and editors.
  • Produce credible and fair journalism that reflects each community's diversity.
The Koch brothers don't care one bit about journalism or the communities the Tribune Company's papers serve. They just want to turn the Tribune's eight newspapers into a single megaphone for the their bottom line.

Tribune Company executives should reject this approach and put their readers first. That's not just good for journalism. It's also good for the business of news.

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