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Legacy Loss

Slow Death of Legacy Newsrooms Feeds Rise of Privately Funded Operations Disguised as News
By John Fortney
October 3, 2023
On The Record

The vacuum left by the loss and downsizing of legacy print and broadcast newsrooms has emboldened privately funded far left groups to fill the void with newsrooms in name only.

These are nothing more than on-line attack blogs aimed directly at conservative legislatures and elected officials.

In Ohio, that operation is called the Ohio Capital Journal.

Influence Watch pointed out the online publication’s self-described “left leaning” slant that offers “principled progressive commentary.”

Privately funded and operated under the umbrella aggregate of States Newsroom, the Ohio Capital Journal is managed by a former Ohio Democratic Party communications staffer, David DeWitt, who also wrote for the far-left social media attack blog Plunderbund

His former position as Deputy Communications Director for the Ohio Democratic Party is listed in the directory below.

The Ohio Capital Journal’s slanted coverage is often promoted in tandem with the Ohio Democratic Party and its online operatives. This has never been more evident than during Ohio’s debut of a new Redistricting Process for both the state legislative and congressional maps in 2021 and 2022. 

Below is a retweeted post of an Ohio Capital Journal story promoted by States Newsroom and another former Ohio Democratic Party staffer who now serves as communications director for yet another liberal organization that constantly targets Republican elected officials.

Here is a media alert from the Ohio Democratic Party promoting the Ohio Capital Journal narrative that supports their agenda.

Here is the same story promoted by the Ohio attack wing of the National Democratic Redistricting Commission, All on the Line Ohio.

The NDRC is run by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who heads the All On The Line organizations which operate in majority Republican states. Holder’s well-funded group filed lawsuits in the Ohio Supreme Court challenging the maps, with the goal of gerrymandering guaranteed wins for Democrat candidates.

Here is another liberal special interest group coordinating and advancing the narrative from Washington, D.C.

And the States Newsroom umbrella group advanced the false attack narrative on its aggregate site.

A vile commentary from the Ohio Capital Journal editor is commonplace. For the most part, even the most liberal legacy newspaper columnists don’t exhibit this type of constant, unprofessional, special interest driven diatribes against legislative leadership. Unfortunately, as proven above, the narrative isn’t just for the opinion page, it is pervasive through the publication’s coverage.

The liberal on-line organization continues to expand based on private funding from concealed donors and legacy publications tacitly validating their efforts.

The Capital Journal received credit from liberal New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer. Her biased story, “State Legislatures Are Torching Democracy,” targeted Ohio’s Republican majority regarding redistricting, while ignoring her own state’s Democrat gerrymander. Used as sources were far left partisans, including former Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper and multiple Democrat operatives. 

The New Yorker
story is a 6,800 word hit piece from a national magazine coordinated by a privately funded far left attack blog disguised as an Ohio newsroom. The Ohio Capital Journal and its parent organization States Newsroom are well-financed and politically weaponized.

Here is the description from Influence Watch about the Hopewell Fund and how it supports fake news organizations like States Newsroom and the Ohio Capital Journal.

Here are more details from Influence Watch regarding the dark money funding behind States Newsroom and its ties to liberal causes.

States Newsroom and its Ohio arm, the Ohio Capital Journal should have no membership or privileges with the Ohio Legislative Correspondents Association, yet it was quietly admitted by OLCA’s board.

Legacy newsrooms and the trusted tenured experience of their political reporters should not be subjected to the broad brush of bias the Ohio Capital Journal and its parent organization represent.

OLCA’s founding is captured within the halls of the Ohio Statehouse Museum.

“Lobbyists and hack writers had overrun the house and senate floors…special interest groups paid them to promote their special interest agendas.”

This is exactly what the Hopewell Fund and private donations pay States Newsroom and the Ohio Capital Journal to do.

OLCA’s mission remains as relevant today as when it was founded. Today’s world of on-line journalism is often clouded by agenda driven organizations pushing their so-called stories on social media. If writers would like to work for an online outlet such as the Ohio Capital Journal they certainly may pursue that.
However, they should never receive the same privileges and access provided by the Ohio General Assembly to legitimate legacy newsrooms. States Newsroom and its multiple branches represent a biased, weaponized, and secretly funded special interest agenda disguised as reporting.

This deserves a serious review from OLCA’s board regarding member credentials and access. OLCA is a courtesy of the legislature, not the other way around.

Ohioans deserve objective coverage. Newsrooms around the state that are starved for content should never fill empty spaces with a product produced by the Ohio Capital Journal or States Newsroom. Below are examples of legacy media featuring content from the Ohio Capital Journal on their websites.

                 WEWS-TV Features Ohio Capital Journal Through Content Sharing Agreement

The Cleveland Plain Dealer and WEWS-TV websites regularly feature content from the Ohio Capital Journal.

                      Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Website Features Ohio Capital Journal Story

What can be done about it? If you read a story from your local newspaper or tv station website posted as part of a content sharing agreement from the Ohio Capital Journal, take time to write a letter to the editor.

               WEWS-TV Features Ohio Capital Journal Through Content Sharing Agreement

Question why a trusted local news source would reprint anything from a privately funded organization with a far left agenda.

                       WEWS-TV Content Sharing Notice with Ohio Capital Journal

And pose the following question, “Is this what my subscription is funding? Privately funded biased stories and fake news?” 

Ohioans deserve better than States Newsroom and the Ohio Capital Journal.