A controversial Federal Communications Commission hearing is a woolly way to start the New Year, but it sure beats staring at Congressional redistricting maps all day.
To prepare our readers for the January 28 public hearing in San Antonio, over the next few weeks the Current is devoting a significant portion of its coverage to the issue of media ownership and consolidation.
Yet, it's not fair to point fingers at companies like Hearst, which owns the Express-News, and Clear Channel, which owns billboards, radio, and TV stations in San Antonio and six countries, without coming clean about who we are and who owns us.
|Times Shamrock remains a privately held, family company that is preparing a a fourth generation to run the business.|
Based in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Times Shamrock started more than a century ago when E.J. Lynett purchased the struggling Scranton Times and transformed it into a respectable daily newspaper; it won a Pulitizer Prize for public service in 1946.
Times Shamrock remains a privately held family company that is preparing a a fourth generation to run the business. The company has grown from its northeastern Pennsylvania roots to own newspapers and radio stations as far afield as Orlando, Florida; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and San Antonio, Texas. As its ownership chart on the next page illustrates, the FCC's relaxed radio ownership rules have helped Times Shamrock, too; otherwise, the company wouldn't be able to own several stations in one market. In 1922, the Scranton Times was the first U.S. newspaper to own and operate a radio station. (That practice is now illegal, although the FCC has grandfathered some owners and granted waivers to others.)
The Lynetts built Times Shamrock in a coal mining town. Yet, when the Current published a cover story last July on the coal industry, City Public Service, and the effects of this outdated fossil fuel on the environment, no one from Scranton called the paper to complain or demand that we run an uplifting piece on the pros of coal mining. A recent study cited in media critic Robert McChesney's forthcoming book, The Problem With Media, concluded that employees at many newspapers tended to internalize the politics of their owners, and as a result, self-censor their stories, or even endure censorship by upper management. I can say that has never happened in the three years I've worked at the Current. I don't know how the Lynetts vote and they don't know for whom I do (although they probably could take an educated guess).
Media conglomerates rarely serve their local communities because they have to answer to their shareholders. At the Current, as reporters we answer to our readers and to ourselves. •
The Current's coverage of media ownership issues is in the feature section of this issue.
Scranton Times-Tribune (68,622)
Citizens' Voice (29,483)
Daily Review (9,100)
News Item (12,205)
Pottsville REPUBLICAN & Herald (29,524)
The Progress-Index (16,861)
Valley Advantage Weekly (18,000)
Bradford Sullivan Pennysaver (10,510)
The Farmer's Friend (9,338)
New Age-Examiner (5,500)
Wyoming County Advance (15,150)
Valley View, PA
The Citizen Standard (4,350)
Susquehanna County Independent (3,472)
Susquehanna County Weekender (13,451)
Troy Pennysaver (12,642)
East Stroudsburg, PA
Pocono Shopper (29,960)
Owego Pennysaver (20,023)
Binghamton & Elmira, NY
Our Times (16,000)
Good Times (26,500)
Good Times for Seniors (25,000)
Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal (10,000)
Tri-Boro Banner (7,800)
The Suburban (7,800)
Electric City (26,500)
The Advantage (19,000)
Detroit Metro Times (110,000)
San Antonio Current (50,000)
Orlando Weekly (50,000)
Baltimore City Paper (89,000)
Scranton, PA ADI distributes regional and national newspapers in northeastern Pennsylvania
MSA: Metropolitan Statistical Area
Rank: among 280 MSAs in the United States
City — MSA Population — Rank
Scranton, Pennsylvania — 624,776 — 68
WEJL-AM / WBAX-AM
Tulsa, Oklahoma — 803,235 — 59
∗ Westminster, Maryland — 7.6 million — 4
Milwaukee, Wisconsin —1.68 million — 27
∗ Cities in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C.-Virginia MSA
Source: Times-Shamrock, U.S. Census
By Lisa Sorg
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.