15 May 2007 More Journey Through Hallowed Ground Conflicts of Interest
From Peyton Knight:
A local Virginia newspaper, the Loudoun Times-Mirror, recently wrote a rather one-sided “news” piece promoting Rep. Frank Wolf’s Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area.
Biased reporting is nothing unusual, however, there is more to this story than meets the eye.
When the writer from the Times-Mirror spoke with me before writing her story, she implied that the National Center had written the pro-private property rights alternative to the Wolf bill that was introduced by Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD). I informed her that we did not write Congressman Bartlett’s bill. She apologized for the mistaken inference and continued her interview. Unfortunately, this did not prevent her from writing what she wanted to write (or perhaps was directed to write, as you’ll see later), as her published piece stated that the National Center had “written a substitute” bill for Rep. Bartlett.
When I called the Times-Mirror office, the reporter apologized, and I was assured that a retraction and correction was in the works. In the next week’s edition, the retraction did not appear on the paper’s website, but one of the paper’s editors called to assure me that a correction appears in the print edition. The editor also informed me that they do not publish such retractions on their website, however, they correct the online version of the story itself. The corrected piece can be found here. (We would direct you to the incorrect piece, but it no longer exists on the paper’s website.)
The Times-Mirror hit-job awas not lost on Congressman Bartlett, either. His rebuttal to what he called “unprofessional and inaccurate reporting” can be found on the paper’s website here. Congressman Bartlett sets the facts straight, and also reveals that the Times-Mirror did not even bother to contact him or his office prior to running their original, incorrect story.
Now the interesting part. The Loudoun Times-Mirror is owned by Arthur Arundel, who also sits on the board of directors of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership. The Partnership is the federally funded special interest group that helped write Wolf’s Heritage Area bill, and is currently lobbying Congress for its passage, as the group acknowledges here.
It appears that the Times-Mirror may have put its self-described “devotion to high quality community news” on the back burner so that it can more readily pursue its owner’s devotion to his pet special interest project. Should the Wolf Heritage Area bill pass, the Partnership, which Mr. Arundel serves as a board member, would stand to receive a minimum of one million dollars per year in federal funding.
As they say, don’t let the truth to get in the way of a good story – or in the way of a million-dollar-a-year, taxpayer subsidized, joy ride for you and your friends.
I wonder if the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership counts the Times-Mirror’s devotion to its anti-property rights agenda as an example of “local support“?
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