The New York Times’s Tim Arango must have liked our story from Friday morning about Scientology buying “Governing” magazine.’
He ran his own version on Sunday, but without any credit to this column for first exposing what was going on with the owner of Governing, The St. Petersburg Times.
True enough, the St. Pete Times ‘ which has run many exposes about Scientology ‘ didn’t feel bad about taking the sect’s money when it sold them the magazine. The new owners, called e.republic, then fired 60% of the staff. Will they be replaced by Scientologists? Time will tell.
Andrew Corty, publisher of the Times, refused to call us back on Friday so we couldn’t ask him about the ethics of what he’d done. Arango didn’t bother asking him that question. Arango also didn’t ask him about what I reported on Friday: that the Times also accepted $1 million in advertising from Scientology, and that video ads from the group were running on the newspaper’s business pages alongside news of the Governing sale. There was also no mention in the St. Pete Times business story of e.republic’s ownership.
I don’t know what’s worse: the New York Times’s omissions, or the St. Pete Times’s omissions. By the way: the St. Pete Times is owned by the Poynter Institute, which hosts Jim Romenesko’s popular media blog. The latter, at least, gave this column credit (kinda) and mentioned the Scientology aspect.
But doesn’t it raise questions of ethics and propriety when a newspaper’s publisher is doing business with one of its editorial targets? I should think so. How can readers of the St. Pete Times, who’ve just read these massive Scientology exposes, feel when told that the paper has accepted money from the object of the investigation?
Meantime, my sources in DC say that Scientology is on the warpath to buy more publications like Governing. Having been ridiculed in Hollywood, Scientology is looking for new inroads. Thanks to the St. Petersburg Times, it’s succeeding.