Anyone who has read the LA Times on education knows that they are just as cozy with CorpEd as WaPo, the NYTimes, or even the Nashville Tennessean. For Eli Broad, however, coziness is not enough. He wants total control.
The Columbia Journalism Review looks inside the ongoing efforts by Eli Broad to buy the print media in Los Angeles, where he has boasted of his plans to have half of LA's public school children attending charter chain gangs by 2023.
The clip below indicates what Southern California readers will contend with if Broad succeeds. It pinpoints what occurred in the recent past with Broad's hand-picked editor's effort to provide a special corporate ed news section. This clown, Austin Beutner, was fired when Broad's first takeover failed:
For those in the newsroom, more concerns had surfaced. While current and former Times staffers spoke in support of Beutner’s local-first sales pitch, several expressed consternation that the former publisher’s influence was also seeping into the news pages. But they declined to go on the record with specific examples.
“He didn’t want a newspaper that was edited from Chicago,” Newton says. “All of that was good on paper. In practice, it’s difficult to have a publisher who’s so immersed in the politics of the place. It’s difficult to say whether some of these initiatives were made for the good of the region or a manifestation of the publisher’s politics. Inevitably, with pluses come complications.”
Take Beutner’s August launch of a single-subject education verticle, an effort backed by pro-charter nonprofits including the Broad Foundation. “We didn’t have a revenue model to support education coverage,” Beutner says. “I said [to the foundations], You guys spend a ton of money on advocacy to help inform people, but if you give us money, we can help you reach those people who aren’t informed.”
Broad’s money, in addition to other foundation funding, allowed the Times to hire two full-time K-12-focused education reporters for at least two years.
There have been inconsistencies with disclosing the relationship in subsequent Broad- or charter-related education coverage. What’s more, multiple staffers said the newsroom was not informed of the vertical’s financial backing until Beutner’s note to readers publicizing its launch. A Times spokeswoman pegged the lack of an internal announcement to a miscommunication, not a coverup.
Still, one staffer says, “this might have crossed the line because Broad is such a player. There’s the perception issue, which is just as important as whether he’s involved in dictating storylines.”