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By Miriam Raftery

March 18, 2013 (San Diego) – For weeks, rumors have abounded that the respected Los Angeles Times newspaper and its parent Tribune Company may sell to would-be buyers whose goal is not journalism, but propaganda. On March 17, U-T San Diego owner Doug Manchester told MSNBC news that the billionaire Koch Brothers, major financial backers of the TEA Party, are interested in buying the Times empire, which includes the Chicago Tribune as well as the L.A. Times

Manchester himself has also been rumored to be a prospective buyer. Manchester has drawn criticism in professional journalism circles, including Editor and Publisher, the journalism industry’s esteemed publication, for flagrantly violating rules of journalism and even wrapping the front page of the U-T San Diego in editorials for candidates from president to mayor. But his bias goes far beyond politics. Manchester is a developer; the U-T failed to inform readers when Supervisors were on the verge of approving recommendations of a “Red Tape Reduction Task Force” consisting of developers who wanted to eliminate all community planning groups.

Such bias is dangerous for a democracy. While each person has their own political views, editors and reporters included, in the news business such opinions belong only on the editorial pages if printed at all. Even there, a variety of views should be encouraged.  When it comes to news coverage, publishers should make every effort to provide readers with truthful reporting, strongest arguments on all sides of the issues, fact-checking candidates and including all viable candidates in each race, and avoiding influence by exclusion—such as covering only one side of an issue or leaving topics out of the news pages entirely.   To do otherwise is censorship and has no place in a democracy.

Our own publication isn’t perfect, but our goal is to strive to meet those goals above. We run reader editorials on a wide variety of issues. We’ve run editorials written by conservatives, liberals, Republicans, Democrats, Green Party and Libertarian Party members. Our comments section is uncensored except if someone violates rules to prevent libel, racism, profanity, or spam. We believe in a free and open exchange of ideas by everyone in our community and we welcome suggestions from our readers.  Our news coverage includes as many local issues and some national ones to the degree that our budget allows. We do our best to make sure you know what your local boards and council will be voting on. We keep you informed about major development projects planned for our region. We invite every candidate to be interviewed in the races we cover and provide in-depth coverage, also linking to nonpartisan sites such as the League of Women Voters and the voting records of incumbents to let you have tools to make up your own minds. If an official is engaged in illegal or unethical actions, regardless of their political party, you can count on us to bring you the truth. 

As nonprofit media, we also represent the people’s voice – not powerful special interests. That’s not true of a growing number of other media outlets where corporate interests lead to censorship – for instance there are publications in San Diego that won’t run any negative stories about SDG&E because they rely on revenues from the utility giant. When SDG&E approached us about sponsorship, we told them we have a clear firewall between our news and sponsorships (ads in the for-profit world) and that we would continue to run stories on any controversies involving SDG&E. They hung up and never called us back. 

Do you really want news publishers to tell you how to think, and what issues you should know about –censoring others that the publisher doesn’t want you to hear about?

The Los Angeles Times is not merely a source of L.A. news. It’s also one of the only reliable sources for information on statewide issues including legislation in the Capitol, as well as regional Southern California issues, some San Diego issues, and quite a few national/international issues. As more and more news outlets become consolidated under massive corporate owners more interested in either fluff/entertainment news or political propaganda for either side, our democracy suffers as a result.

Please join me in signing a petition urging the L.A. Times not to sell to the Koch brothers:  


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Not this time

Love the publication Miriam but for this one I cannot sign on.  The LA Times is in my opinion a bigoted left wing rag.  The only bit of honesty is the sports pages.  I saw more anger and hate (words I see from one side too often) in the petition than I have ever seen from the Kochs' or their business interests.  

I long for NEWS, FACTS, and clearly labeled opinion.  Those days never were.

Understood, Miriam. These

Understood, Miriam. These issues are more than merely "academic" when they're on your own home turf. But I'm afraid the bias of the mainstream media--which, to me, is (unfortunately) impossible to miss--persists. It has been confirmed by a number of scholarly studies over the years, the most recent of which is probably Timothy Groseclose's.

Because this involves our local media being taken over

by someone more interested in touting special interests, even his own personal financial interests.  Clearly that should be of interest to our readers.

For the record, I oppose propaganda on either side of the aisle.  While everyone has personal political views including most reporters and editors, journalist ethics rquire that you do your best to tell both sides of the story, do fact checking and be fair to all parties. 

Also quite frankly, what we're now seeing is the far-right denouncing anything that isn't extremist far-right as "liberal" even when it's really moderate or telling both sides - ie PBS and NPR, when in fact these public stations have shifted farther to the right as they've been required to get corporate donors to make up for funds in public funds.  So there's a lot of smoke and mirrors.  In broadcast, there's no balance at all.  ClearChannel controls the vast majority of talk radio stations and has booted off liberal ones.  Something like 95% of all political talk radio shows in America are openly skewed conservative.  So yes, demise of dissenting views is a concern.  In the past there was a lot more diversity. But also in the past, the major news organization were owned by people who believed in journalism. Now the major broadcast networks have all been taken over by large corporations - General Electric owns NBC, Viacom owns CBS, Disney owns ABC.  What masters are they really serviing?

These conglomerates are not concerned with the public interest so much as corporate interests.  Political bias is only one issue; the corporate slants, censorship or outright omission of many issues, and the dumbing down of news into entertainment are also key concerns. 



Hurray, a TEA Party newspaper. We ran all the "progressives" off talk radio. It's about time we took over the newspapers.

Yes, Manchester and the Koch

Yes, Manchester and the Koch brothers are conservative, and their relatively recent media involvement reflects that prejudice. However, for decades the bias in the mainstream papers, especially those in big cities like LA, Chicago and New York, has been overwhelmingly progressive.

Why the wailing and gnashing of teeth now?