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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Cincy Enquirer's Boss: Officially Republican

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The president and publisher of The Cincinnati Enquirer, an executive who also heads the media company's online operation, is listed in Ohio legislative records as declaring herself "Republican" to accept a political appointment last year from former Gov. Bob Taft.

Margaret E. Buchanan's GOP party affiliation is not widely known. It might give pause to those who question the impartiality of the publishing enterprise she leads. As publisher, Buchanan does not directly oversee day-to-day news coverage at the Gannett Co. Inc.-owned print and online media operation. She functions as the CEO. All employees, in effect, answer to her.

Buchanan turned up under the Republican label in the May 17, 2006 Ohio Senate Journal on a list with a dozen other Taft appointees to various state boards and commissions.

This is what appeared in the Senate's advise and consent resolution confirming her appointment: "Margaret E. Buchanan, Republican, from Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, as a Member of the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees for a term beginning March 31, 2006 and ending at the close of business January 1, 2014, replacing Candace Kendle, who resigned."

The Senate Journal for that day is available HERE, and a search will quickly lead one to the resolution.

Gannett is a nationwide media chain whose holdings include USA TODAY and its corporate ethics policy says, "An impartial arms' length relationship will be maintained with anyone seeking to influence the news.'' Apparently, the governor and state universities do not fall under the scope of ''anyone seeking to influence the news."

There is a discussion of the formation of Gannett's policy HERE. And an interesting research paper about university trustees and the appointment process can be found HERE. Ohio's appointment process is described, and politics plays a role in the process.

Buchanan is a University of Cincinnati graduate.

Still, should media executive Buchanan have taken a political appointment? Does it open her newspaper to complaints of biased coverage? The preamble to Gannett's ethics policy says the company is dedicated to guaranteeing "the independence and integrity of all our news, editorial, information, advertising and marketing services.'' As a Republican appointee, is she really independent?


  1. Thanks for dropping by, Dean! For years Dems have complained of bias down at ENQY that came from the top. I remember writing stories many moons ago for The Plain Dealer about the publisher and editorial page editor making $$$ contributions to the Hamilton County GOP. Some would say: The more things change, the more they stay the same. I don't know Margaret Buchanan and I don't want to disparage her at all. I just sense that a link to state government and patronage appointments is not a good thing for journalism. Perhaps I'm wrong.