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Why We Are Launching On The Record

Pushing Back on a Troubling Trend in Today's Newsrooms
By John Fortney
September 26, 2023
On The Record

Narratives instead of news. That’s the headline that best describes most of today’s mainstream media.

They will not tell you the real story.

So, we will.

Everyone knows the reporting in Ohio’s major newspapers has a left-wing bias. Their editorials read like Democratic Party press releases attacking and smearing Republicans in the General Assembly.

Worse yet, we now find it increasingly difficult – nearly impossible – to get those papers to publish editorials by Republican state senators representing our side of policy debates. The editorial boards’ woke gatekeepers make conservatives face additional and ever-changing standards designed to keep us quiet. 

Here are three fairly recent examples.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer refused to publish Sen. Jerry Cirino’s editorial defending attacks on his Senate Bill 83, designed to restore free speech to Ohio’s public universities. The paper’s editor went so far as to suggest the senator had made up the problem of censorship on campus.  The Plain Dealers’ editorial board director explained she could not publish our response to their criticisms for “fairness reasons.” We could however, submit a 200 word letter. Yeah, we tried that once before. They refused to even print the letter.

Here’s how that happened. The New Yorker Magazine published a 6,800-word hit piece on the GOP-led Ohio state legislature. The Plain Dealer (owned by the same company as the magazine) then ran an article essentially promoting the nasty and error-filled diatribe. We sent a 700-word response by Sen. Cirino to the Plain Dealer. The paper refused to run it and demanded we shorten it to a 200-word letter to the editor. The senator did that. The paper never ran the letter.

Sen. Theresa Gavarone submitted an editorial on leftist extremism to the Columbus Dispatch. The paper’s editor insisted we remove a reference to "the party that thinks men can have babies."  

We declined to remove the line. It was an easy decision. A newspaper attempted to set the terms of acceptable speech in the public square. Let that sink in. The media have become so emboldened by cancel culture that they tried to dictate what your elected representatives may say – or may not say. That is anti-free speech and anti-American.

We simply cannot allow the media to set the terms for what a free people may say. When editors begin applying woke fact checks to opinion pieces they have jumped the shark. Like you, we are fed up. 

So, we are launching our own online newsroom.

On the Record will deliver the real story directly to the people. We will give you the real facts about the positions of the GOP supermajority in the Ohio State Senate. We will send you our editorials, statements on policies, and legislative updates you likely won’t find in the editorial pages or nightly newscast.

This has become necessary because the news business has changed dramatically. I should know – I spent 25 years in television newsrooms as a reporter, anchor, and news director. Most of my colleagues leaned to the left. The difference between then and now? The vast majority of journalists were committed to reporting the facts, uncovering the truth, and maintaining objectivity. Today, the opposite is true. Too many are not just biased but rabidly partisan – as can see for yourself on social media, where they give their opinions on almost everything. It has always been difficult for Republicans to get fair treatment from the media. Now it is virtually impossible.

Recently on deep state media, I mean public radio, I heard a journalism professor talk about how she teaches future journalists to be advocates. I have breaking news for that professor. Reporters should be advocates for one cause, and one cause only. That cause is called the FACTS. 

What really depicts how entrenched advocacy journalism has become is how oblivious the media remains to its own suicidal demise, as subscriptions and ratings plummet. You and I know why. Today’s newsroom bosses don’t want to sell papers as badly as they want to sell an agenda. They come off as elitist, entitled, and always offended. Meantime, the audience they’re losing is reasonable, hard-working, and always considerate. 

People don’t need to be talked down to, preached to, or told what to think. We trust you to make up your own mind about today’s top issues. We want to give you the opportunity to read our editorials, uncensored. We want you to get the facts on our policies and positions without the filters of the PC police.

If you like what you read, share our stories with your friends – who probably agree that today’s media doesn’t really represent your neighborhood or your values. We welcome you to join us as we chart a new course into our great state’s bright future.

Click here to receive On The Record every week for free!

John Fortney is Director of Communications for the Ohio Senate Majority Caucus