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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Newspapers going the way of cable news

    Everyone knows that cable news networks have their own agendas. Fox News is conservative, MSNBC is liberal, we all understand that. However, this ideology is now infiltrating newspapers in an alarming way.

    San Diego’s local newspaper, the San Diego Union-Tribune, was recently purchased by local hotel owner and developer Douglas Manchester, who has used the paper not only to advance his conservative views, but his business as well. Manchester has a lot to gain from construction of a new downtown stadium for the San Diego Chargers football team. The stadium — which would require a significant amount of taxpayer funding from the bankrupt city of San Diego — is a hotly contested issue. The opinion section of the Union-Tribune has not surprisingly taken a very pro-stadium stance, and allegedly went as far as to send Tim Sullivan, a local sports columnist who opposed the project, on a permanent vacation. The reason given for Sullivan’s termination was his unwillingness to cooperate with the paper’s new media initiatives, but in reality Sullivan was fired shortly after he published a column criticizing the stadium project.

    To their credit, the owners of the paper have been transparent in advancing their views. The CEO of the paper, John T. Lynch, told the New York Times, “We are doing what a newspaper ought to do, which is to take positions. We are very consistent — pro-conservative, pro-business, pro-military — and we are trying to make a newspaper that gets people excited about this city and its future.”

    However, the question remains whether this is a good thing. In San Diego, the Union-Tribune is the only city-wide newspaper with a decent readership. San Diegans have nowhere to go for a liberal point of view other than the weekly San Diego Reader, which is more concerned with human interest than politics. The same is true in Tucson, where the Arizona Daily Star is the only local daily newspaper left. However, the Star is generally neutral with its views.

    More papers should embrace the model of the New York Times, which is considered a liberal institution but regularly employs conservative columnists like Ross Douthat. There is a reason the Times has become America’s most widely read newspaper, not just because it represents the country’s most populous city. If that were true, we would all religiously read the conservative New York Daily News instead of just laughing at its pun-heavy headlines. Unless newspapers embrace the role of observer rather than player, they will alienate large segments of their readership.

    — Tyler Johnson is a journalism senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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