Billionaire conservative philathropists David Koch and Charles Koch officially confirmed news reports that they are interested in getting into the media business through an interview with the Wall Street Journal and in a post on their website KochFacts.com.
In a statement, Charles Koch stated an important point about the brothers' intentions for media: to provide actual unbiased news to customers, an exceedingly rare commodity in America today, particularly at the local level where many regions of the country are served by a single newspaper which is not open to ideological diversity.
If we were to get involved in the media business, or more specifically in the newspaper business, our focus would not be to have a newspaper as a vehicle for what’s in our business interest or even our philosophical interest. We would have the best chance to succeed by, as we do with our other businesses, understanding what our customers value. Going in, we believe this would be to offer real news, not just selective news and not news with spin on it. The editorial page would be a marketplace of ideas where all sorts of approaches to public policy issues are vetted and contrasted and there could be ongoing debate. We think this approach would create much more interest, more readers, and would ultimately improve newspapers as a business proposition.
This would indeed be a very refreshing approach to see in newspapers, especially from conservative owners. Sometimes right-leaning media entrepreneurs have overreacted to the overwhelming left-leaning bias of the rest of the news media.
Also of note in the KochFacts.com blog post was a statement from Koch Industries’ CFO, Steve Feilmeier:
We see incredible change in media and where there’s significant change, it’s often difficult for companies to take a long-term view, especially when they are public companies. We can create and add value to those situations because we are private, well capitalized, and can help a company take a view that is longer term. This makes it a win-win – for customers, for the company, for the previous stockholders and the new stockholders.
This is an important point for left-leaning journalists working in an industry where widespread layoffs have become the norm. Would they rather have no job or work for some conservative owners who want an actual independent media?
The latter seems the obvious better choice, especially in light of the clear fact that newspapers like the Los Angeles Times are actually not being run in any sort of neutral manner as NewsBusters reported earlier this month.