Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Press and the I-675 Controversy : Stenographers to Power?

A very interesting aspect of the controversy was the roll of the local media, particularly the two Cox Enterprises newspapers, the Dayton Daily News and Dayton Journal-Herald. Traditionally the J-H was the “businessman’s newspaper”, but during this area was taking some pro-city positions.

The J-H was a supporter of the River Corridor Committee and its “Riverdesign Dayton” project to build housing and landscaping on the downtown riverfront, and supported early Arcade planning.

The J-H ran two op-ed pieces in February 1977 on I-675 , one by associate editor Harold Piety, the other an unsigned editorial. You can read them here (click on the images and they will enlarge):

…this was a fairly interesting editorial as Piety had a very different vision of the region as one centered on downtown via rail transit, which dovetailed with the J-Hs advocacy of downtown revival efforts of the 1970s.

What’s interesting is how far off the reservation Piety and the J-H went with these. The CEO of “Dayton Newspapers” (the local Cox Enterprises holding company) a Mr. Easterly, was a leader in the local Chamber of Commerce and supported I-675 (the DDN editorials supported the road).

It turned out that Piety wrote another editorial at the end of 1977, around the time of the city commission vote, reversing his anti-bypass position. Apparently Area Progress Council pressure was felt at Dayton Newspapers since Eastelry, as CEO of Dayton Newspapers, was on the APC as well

Pietys’ name disappeared from the masthead. The Journal-Herald eventually became a strident voice for I-675, being dominated by conservative editor Bill Wild and publisher Dennis Schere

Eventually, later in the controversy, mayor McGee accused Dayton Newspapers CEO Easterly of conflict of interest due to his dual roll as Chamber of Commerce leader, APC member, and publisher of the two local newspapers.

Because, after 1977 both Cox papers were singing from the same songbook

No comments: