"Mainstream media" are alarmed by reports that billionaires Charles and David Koch are considering the purchase of Tribune Company's eight daily newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times.
When Warren Buffett spent $344 million to purchase 28 newspapers, there were mostly sighs of relief from journalists glad to keep their jobs. However, reaction to reports of the Koch brothers' interest in buying the Tribune papers was quite different. Charles and David Koch, you see, are conservative libertarians, not liberals. Will the Kochs, gasp, force their conservatism on readers? Will they sully journalism's good name? Truth is, no one knows what the Kochs plan to do.
The Newspaper Guild and Communications Workers of America issued a joint statement, which said of the Koch brothers: "They are active political proponents of harsh right-wing positions." And many current owners, editors and reporters are what? Such arrogance is what has helped accelerate the newspaper industry's decline.
When news of the Koch brothers' interest in their paper reached theLos Angeles Times, columnist Steve Lopez asked for a show of hands from people who would quit if the Kochs bought the paper. According to a report in The Huffington Post, "About half the staff raised their hands."
That should make things easier for the Kochs. They can start by replacing liberal quitters and others whose ideology has turned off conservative readers. They could hire reporters and editors who will try to win back readers and advertisers by providing the type of ideologically balanced coverage they seek.
There are many good unemployed and underpaid journalists who could report the news fairly and without bias. They might leap at the chance to work for a paper whose owners would make a strong financial commitment. Why do liberals consider themselves uniquely objective, when numerous surveys have shown the opposite to be true and much of the public doesn't buy it?
Newspapers, like all media, are businesses first. If they can't make a profit because too many readers don't like or trust their product, they will go out of business, or reduce their size and coverage to something smaller and less substantial. The First Amendment is of little use if one can't afford a printing press.
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