To: Joel Kramer (CEO/Editor), Roger Buoen and Susan Albright (Co-Managing Editors) Don Effenberger (News Editor)
From: Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re: They Get What They Pay For
I was never much of a reporter. I could always do the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of a story just fine, and earned a living at it, off and on. But it was never really my thing.
But I do remember, when I worked in the business, that the fastest way to get a reporter, producer or editor up on their back legs was to suggest that journalism partner with business or government to do the job. They would say – with righteousness rivaling any Baptist minister or Trappist monk – that Journalism’s mission was to be a check and balance on government, business, anyone with power. To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Any whiff of filthy lucre was to be kept on the other side of the thick wall and locked door that separated the Sales department from the newsroom.
Media analysts – I’m thinking Garfield and Gladstone’s “On The Media” on NPR, and the whole Romanesko borg – go through gyrations worthy of a Talmud symposium sifting through the ethics of mixing journalism and money.
Now, theMinnPosttalks a big game about journalism. And you’ve certainly staffed your site with a lot of people with long pedigrees in the regional news business. And Brian Lambert.
But I’ve noticed on one issue that your site gets a fair chunk of money from from the Joyce Foundation. The Joyce Foundation also bankrolls most of the major gun control organizations in the United States, including Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts and “Protect Minnesota“.
And along with this financial link, the MinnPost’s coverage of Second Amendment issues has gotten more and more slanted, and not a little bit risible in the bargain:
- Doug Grow has positively fawned over Heather Martens and Jane Kay (of “Moms Want Action”, another astroturf anti-gun group that gets money from the same pool of liberals with deep pockets that bankrolls Protect MN and, I suspect, the MinnPost); his coverage has been less “journalism” and more “holding a rhetorical slumber party”. His piece on Rep. Hillstrom’s counter to the Paymar/Hausman gun grab bills – one of which Martens, a lobbyist, read into the record, a bizarre flouting of House rules – was so devoid of fact I concluded it could only have been written in advance.
- I’ve got nothing but respect for Eric Black as a journalist – but his coverage of Second Amendment issues and their Constitutional history this past year has been a fount of inspiration for us on this blog.
The MinnPost gets big bucks from Joyce, and starts a wave of anti-Second-Amendment (I’ll be charitable) cheerleading. Coincidence?
Which leads us to this week, and Susan Perry’s piece on an academic “study” on gun violence. It was a puff piece about a junk study…
…and it was sponsored – as noted in the story’s headline – by UCare. An arm of the government of the State of Minnesota. Now, leave aside that that government is currently controlled by the extreme metrocrat wing of the DFL party. Here’s the question: if journalism is supposed to hold government accountable, should be finacially beholden to government?
Or does that only count when it’s not a DFL sacred cow being promoted?
Because when your “journalism” is being done at the behest of issue-oriented non-profits and the government you’re theoritically supposed to hold accountable, isn’t it really just public relations? Or campaign media?