by Stephen Zielinski
Itís good because we would reasonably expect the scions of two old newspaper empires to strictly observe the ethical limits which ought to guide the actions of our local journalists.
Actually, media corporations have owned stakes in or have even owned the whole of many professional sports franchises. For instance, the TimeWarner conglomerate currently owns the Atlanta Braves (through its Tuner Broadcasting System company) and once owned the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and Thrashers (NHL) while the Tribune Company currently owns the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angles Times, Newsday and the Baltimore Sun. Rupert Murdochís massive News Corporation recently sold the Los Angles Dodgers while the New York Times Company also owns the Boston Globe and, ironically, a minority stake in the Red Sox.
So, knowing this kind of illicit relationship, illicit when assessed from the ethical perspective of a responsible professional journalist, is, in fact, a rather common one and acceptable in certain circles, the McClatchy partnershipís recent deal with the Trib Total Media Company should shock no savvy person. Nor, for that matter, should anyone expect a Richard Mellon Schaife company like Trib Total Media to harbor a deep commitment to the professional integrity of its journalism. Unfortunately, propaganda mongering and the crudest cynicism have become the norm in the United States. Schaifeís journalistic assets provide exemplary cases of this kind of thing and the recent Trib-Piratesí deal just adds to their record.
About the only good that might come from this deal derives from the signal it unavoidably sends to the citizens of the region. The deal explicitly asserts that Trib Total Media sportswriters can be considered nothing more than PR flacks for the McClatchy partnership, to whom they are now contractually obligated in an unknown way. Itís not that we now know the Trib sportswriters might write falsely about the Pirates, a statement that is implicitly true of every bit of journalism or analysis written about any given topic; rather, itís just that a rational fan canít really trust these writers to report the truth about the team they cover. Trust from his or her readers. What else could a journalist have thatís worth as much as this?