Organized labor protests Koch Brothers’ Tribune Co. bid

Elsewhere around the county, organized labor is protesting the potential sale of the Tribune Co. newspapers to the Koch Brothers. Labor activists fear this sale would compromise the journalistic integrity of major newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun.

Newspaper Guild president Bernie Lunzer offers this take on the situation:

“The Guild continues to research and assess the possible sale of the Tribune Company newspapers. We played a key role in the bankruptcy, sitting on the creditors committee for more than three years and affecting different outcomes.

“You’ve heard that there’s a chance the Koch Brothers might purchase all of the papers. This is pure speculation at this point, and we’ve heard varying rumors. There is reason to believe that the Kochs are interested. We also hear that Tribune is using this rumor to push up the price. We’re also hearing from some in the investment community that a sale is not imminent.

“Many in the labor and progressive community have joined together to campaign against the Tribune selling to the Kochs. As the Guild we recognize that our ability to affect what will be a private sale is limited. We have called for Tribune to require any owner to maintain a firewall between the news pages and opinion. The real fear is that the Kochs will use the papers the way that Murdoch uses Fox News, to distort and propagandize.

“That may sound political to some, but we believe this is a fair concern that fits within the core mission of the Guild. We addressed this in Portland, Maine, when Donald Sussman (widely regarded as progressive) purchased that paper. What we believe and have always believed is that democracy requires good, credible, quality journalism, which requires well paid, professional journalists. Yes we embrace the blogosphere, including citizen journalism and other freelance journalism. We just don’t believe it replaces what we do.

“May 29 is a day of action for the coalition fighting the Kochs. You’ll see many demonstrations around the country aimed at stopping a purchase of Tribune properties. We are not actively blocking or promoting these actions, but have shared information with SEIU, the AFL-CIO and others who are involved. Guild locals are free to decide whether or not to participate.”