How My Free Press Got Sold

In my little town … (click for vids)

One brave soul resigned over the “Big Brother” Sinclair Broadcasting “must read” info-torial accusing all other media of bias.

Sinclair producer in Nebraska resigns to protest ‘obvious bias’
 Brian Stelter / CNNMoney

—  Ex-Sinclair news director: We had must-run pieces  —  A morning TV producer at a Sinclair-owned station in Nebraska has resigned in protest of what he calls the company’s “obvious bias.”  —  Justin Simmons gave notice at KHGI TV on March 26.

Media Matters has kindly collected all 66 Orwellian “Ministry of Truth” newsreaders in lockstep for Sinclair Broadcasting, including my local CBS and NBC affiliates (click pic for them).

Sinclair Employees Say Their Contracts Make It Too Expensive to Quit

After Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. drew widespread criticism for having anchors read a statement taking aim at the integrity of other U.S. media outlets, many wondered why some of the company’s journalists didn’t just quit.

The short answer is the cost may be too steep. According to copies of two employment contracts reviewed by Bloomberg, some Sinclair employees were subject to a liquidated damages clause for leaving before the term of their agreement was up: one that requires they pay as much as 40 percent of their annual compensation to the company….

They owe their soul to the company store — albeit “Sixteen Pixels” rather than “Sixteen Tons.”

The frankly Orwellian notion that our “free press” is inveighing against “fake news” and “imbalanced coverage” on orders from Kranky Konservatives enKamped in Maryland’s suburbs has been done to death, elsewhere. Sinclair Broadcasting wants to shove their Trumpian notions of “freedom” down our throats in the most Stalinist manner possible, including (on BOTH our NBC and CBS affiliates) disgraced “investigative” reporter Sharyl Attkison’s pseudo-60 Minutes show on weekends and some vicious turd named “Boris” telling ME how to be an American in a heavy Eastern European accent — again on BOTH local newscasts — in regular segments.

Don’t worry. Eugene, Oregon is as weird as ever a tree-hugging, Earth Shoes wearing, tofu-eating refugee from the 1960s ever imagined. And these weird cookie-cutter segments stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. But we also surrendered local control and ownership of our newspaper on March first, and now, in this most individualistic of markets, we are now far down the food chain of oligarchic media spew.

And therein lies a tale.

Let’s start with the local newspaper, of which someone OUGHT to have noticed that they’re now owned by the Japanese, via a third-party US newspaper conglomerate. Thus far, I find no particular outrage at this odd fact.

When “foreigners” seem the idee fixe of the current maladministration of Donald the Unhinged, it seems odd that it’s OK for our local newspapers to be wholesale sold to Japan. Kind of oxymoronic, that.

The local paper finally knuckled under, and, having united the former Democratic Newspaper (The Guard) and the former Republican Newspaper (The Register) to form the [Eugene] Register-Guard since the 1920s, the Baker Family’s third or fourth generation sold out to the same outfit that just bought the now oxymoronically entitled Austin American-Statesman, which turns out to be owned by a Japanese hedge fund.

And they GUTTED the newsroom and stomped on the union straight out of the gate (they took over on March 1).

I wrote for them when I first got to town, twenty five years ago.

Alton Baker Park in central Eugene, encompassing Skinner Butte in in the middle of town takes its name from the original Register-Guard publisher.   Now an increasingly dead memory of a forgotten time. This town seems to hate its history, and there are virtually no “historical” buildings or even plaques of remembrance.

Here’s the skinny:

Register Guard sold to GateHouse Media
The Salem Statesman Journal
12:21 p.m. PT Jan. 25, 2018 | Updated 1:07 p.m. PT Jan. 25, 2018

EUGENE — The daily newspaper in Oregon’s second-largest city was sold Thursday to GateHouse Media, one of the country’s largest publishers of local news.

The Register-Guard reported that GateHouse Media will officially take ownership March 1. The purchase price has not been disclosed. The Baker family has owned and operated the newspaper since 1927, the year Alton Baker Sr. purchased The Eugene Guard. Three years later, he merged the Guard with the Eugene Register….

The usual suspects: internet, cost of paper, loss of ad revenues, and the RG’s short-sighted “long term” move to a major new facility on the North outskirts of town from the town center (and the psychic loss of that core awareness, I must note). And the first thing the new owners did was to gut the editorial staff.

Who’s Going or Gone at The Register-Guard?
Today is the newspaper’s first day under GateHouse ownership

Eugene Weekly has put together a list of who’s departing from The Register-Guard  following the sale of the locally owned newspaper to GateHouse Media. The sale closes March 1.

The biggest surprise, and one we didn’t see coming, is the departure of Jackman Wilson, long-time editorial page editor… So far, reporters and photographers have retained their jobs.

(Keefer used to work for the R-G and once called this blog “The craziest blog in Eugene” in it.) Just management and editorial, and THAT was a bloodbath.

Click for a surprise

So, who is Gatehouse Media?

The Eugene Weekly notes elsewhere:

… The 17 others listed were also key players in the award-winning running of the business, including long-time investigative reporter Sherri Buri McDonald, who fully educated readers about every important issue she covered. Because EW reported that reporters and photographers have so far been retained, it’s probably safe to say that reporter Buri McDonald’s departure was voluntary, perhaps based on principle or another job, or both. It’s rumored the jobs of the nine copy editors listed were shipped to a central location in Texas. This jaw-dropping piece of work is vintage GateHouse management.

Japanese multinational corporation SoftBank Group Corp. in mid-February 2017 acquired Fortress Investment Group, the parent company of GateHouse, which is owned by New Media Investment Group, which is in turn managed by an affiliate of Fortress, giving SoftBank the entire portfolio of New Media’s community print publications, which at the time of acquisition totaled 564. [Emphasis added]

Ah. A rapine US company was loathsome enough to draw the attention of foreign oligarchs with cash to spare and Americans to quietly have in thrall, should their interests need goosing or protecting. How Patriotic is THAT?

March 29:

GateHouse Media, one of the largest publishers of locally based print and online media in the United States as measured by number of publications, recently announced that it has agreed to acquire The Palm Beach Post and the Palm Beach Daily News, in addition to several niche publications and companion websites, from Cox Media Group LLC for $49.25 million.

Kind of the Sinclair Broadcasting of newspapers, I suppose. Here’s a list of newspapers they (e.g. the Japanese) now own.

Softbank’s Tokyo Headquarters

Mistah Kurtz. He dead.

We leave that wicket sticky, to move back in time to the moment that Eugene’s radio stations were sold out from under us in the 1990s:

Following the passage of the disastrous “1996 Telecommunications Act” unleashing conglomerates to buy as many media properties as they could eat, Cumulus Media and Clear Channel ran the table on Eugene radio stations. Cumulus Media bought six, including “The Voice of the Ducks” KUGN, which they turned into a right-wing hate radio station, and, following a kerfuffle in which they dropped Michael Savage (until the coast cleared, he’s back), forced the Right Wing hate jocks down liberal Eugene’s throat.

Cumulus Media, ironically, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last November.

And Clear Channel bought up five stations, including KPNW*, the “home of Rush Limbaugh.”  To be fair, Rush was already spewing his bile before Clear Channel, but the point remains. Quietly, without fanfare, our “local” radio vanished into KKKorporate KKKonservative media and have never re-emerged.

[* KPNW is NOW owned by Bicoastal Media Licenses V, LLC. I can’t keep track anymore. The oliGOPs trade these like baseball cards anymore. Then only thing missing is any local control or interest. We’re here to make them money. Period.]

We are no longer a community, but mere media vassals of far larger instrumentalities, with, at best, minor suzerainties in much larger empires of greed and interest.

And, while no one seems to have noticed, just as no one has seemed to really notice how while the number of “brands” in the grocery store have remained the same, the number of companies creating those “brands” has shrunk precipitously.

We are slowly being boiled, we little froggies. And there is no way to jump out of the boiling waters.

Just one town, Anytown USA, and how it slowly, imperceptibly has lost its media independence to Big Brother, to faceless corporations with zero actual interest in the viability of our communities. And, ironically, even our politics now is profitable to our faceless media masters, who bank the money from all those political ads elsewhere.

Buying Votes
Tobacco, timber, speculators spend big, TV profits
Eugene Weekly 11-01-07… Ironically, while TV news has declined, stations are cashing in on political advertising. Local TV and radio broadcasters have reaped a $2.2 million windfall while kids struggle for health care and the state struggles to save its natural beauty from sprawl. KVAL TV has cashed in on about $1.1 million in political ads since July, according to state contribution reporting data. KEZI made $363,000, KMTR $356,000 and KLSR/KEVU $114,000.

The Oregonian reported Oct. 30 that with all the political ads, Portland stations are reaping higher rates that capture the higher demand than supply for prime ad times.

Local radio stations also cashed in on political ads. McKenzie River Broadcasting (KMGE, KKNU, KEUG) made about $108,000, Clear Channel (KFLY, KOOL, KPNW, KDUK, KODZ) made $90,000 and Cumulus (KZEL, KNRQ, STAR, KUGN) made $57,000.

Despite all the ads, voters appear to be tuning out the election. Low ballot returns so far mean that turnout could drop below 50 percent …

 How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,  That has such people in ‘t!

~Wm. Shakespeare; The Tempest: Act 5, Scene 1

The obligatory quotation about bangs and whimpers goes here.



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5 responses to “How My Free Press Got Sold

  1. Pingback: April 7, 1862 The Union Wins @ Shiloh + Drawings | his vorpal sword

  2. feckless

    The irony of Bill Clinton signing the 1996 Telecommunications act is so consequential that its like an steel ice pick to the national conscience.

    The last political entity to create something so inevitably self destructive was Cronus the titan’s fathering of Zeus.

    PS Rupert Murdoch is not an American, even if he bought a citizenship.


    • The 1996 Telecommunications Act was a twenty-year bipartisan fustercluck with plenty of blame to go to all parties concerned. Sorry. I remember it well. The tragedy of the Act wasn’t the Act itself, but with Congress’ adamant refusal to deal with all the unanticipated consequences of passage, and their continual sell-out to the media moguls and the sell-off of our public airwaves.

      And, as a blogger who’s been going after Rapine Rupert, I’m well aware of his sordid past. You might like reading this:


  3. & all the cities are now looking the same. All the old buildings being torn down. All the new buildings look the same, whether you’re in Buffalo, NY or Anywhere Else, USA. The same stories in the newspapers & on the radio & on the TV.

    Liked by 1 person

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