Responding to criticism from Media Access Project president Andrew
Schwartzman that Gannett Co. Inc. neither participated in nor covered an informal
media-ownership hearing in Phoenix, a spokeswoman for the company said it had
sent a statement to be read at the hearing, and the judgment as to whether
to cover the forum had been entirely up to the local Gannett station and paper
in the market.
Explaining the decision not to appear, Gannett vice president for corporate
communications Tara Connell said the company had understood the forum to
have been one for the public, and not corporations.
In addition, she said, the company's position on the issue is already clear:
"We have done editorials and written stories" on the media-ownership issue, she
As for the coverage: "That our TV station and newspaper chose not to cover one
forum is hardly undercovering."
Gannett has no mechanism for making its outlets cover issues they "don't
necessarily consider newsworthy," she said, pointing to the irony of any
suggestion that it should, since independence from corporate headquarters is one
of the issues in the consolidation debate.
Gannett's statement to the forum said: "KPNX and The Arizona Republic have
filed extensive comments throughout the commission's ongoing review of its
ownership rules. Our consistent position is that given the tremendous increase over the past
28 years in the number of information/entertainment sources available to
consumers, the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule is outmoded and should be
It continued, "We strongly believe that common ownership of KPNX and The Arizona
Republic has improved the quality and amount of local news, public-affairs
programming and community service available to Phoenix-area residents."
It went on, "The 'Peoples Forum,' organized by Arizona State University, will provide the
Phoenix community with additional information about this important