National advocacy group includes Hartford’s daily in its new campaign against Tribune Company staff cuts.
MoveOn.org Civic Action, a sister group to the Internet-based advocacy organization known for mobilizing anti-Republican and anti-war sentiment, has taken on a cause that is usually the province of media watchers and reporters. Since its launch in September, MoveOn.org Civic Action has committed to issues surrounding corporate media ownership, said communications director Adam Green, and the Tribune Company is one of its first targets. Last month Tribune announced job cuts at several of its newspapers, including 25 positions at the Hartford Courant. Those cuts appear to include longtime political columnist Michele Jacklin (read ctnewsjunkie.com’s coverage in our Media Matters section). This morning, MoveOn.org sent out an appeal for members to sign a protest petition.“Politicians and corporations who should be held accountable by vigilant watchdog journalism will instead be covered by a staff that is stretched too thin,” the email read. “Equally outrageous, Courant readers are being deceived about why these cuts are happening. Despite reaping huge profits, the Courant’s corporate owners in Chicago simply aren’t satisfied—they want more, and they are willing to sacrifice good journalism to get it.”Courant Publisher Jack Davis did not respond to an email seeking comment. However, Tribune executives told the Los Angeles Times they viewed MoveOn.org’s campaign as a public acknowledgment of the value of their news operations.“I think it’s terrific that people care enough about the paper to do whatever they can to make sure that it has the ability to keep doing great stuff,” Times Editor Dean Baquet told his paper. “I think it means that — at a time when people are putting papers down and questioning how relevant we are — a bunch of people are saying, ‘We think you are very relevant, and keep doing what you are doing.‘“MoveOn.org’s campaign will seek to convince corporate media executives that there will be a public backlash against news cuts, Green said, and that will have financial consequences. “We’re connecting staffing issues to quality of journalism issues. It’s just fundamental,” he said.MoveOn.org plans to deliver its petitions tomorrow morning at 11:15 a.m. in front of the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 49th Street and Broadway in New York City, where Tribune Chairman Dennis FitzSimons will be speaking to a media conference.To sign the petition against cuts at the Courant, click here.