Cox Backs Off From Editor’s Be-Nice-to-CBS Memo

“We are addressing this with our staff so messages like this don’t happen again.”

Cox Media Group is backing away from an editor’s memo telling staffers at the Dayton Daily News to be nice to CBS.

Cox Media Group owns the paper and local TV station WHIO-TV, a CBS affiliate. Rashida Rawls, a Cox Media Group editor, called out staffers Friday for running a wire story that critiqued America’s most-watched network, saying the paper shouldn’t “run any stories that cast our station in a negative light or even allude to it negatively.”

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That sounded journalistic alarms, since newspapers are supposed to be unhindered by biases. But Cox spokesman Michael Athmer told TheWrap¬†the newspaper’s partnership with the CBS affiliate “in no way keeps us from objectively covering any news story.”

“We are addressing this with our staff so messages like this don’t happen again,” he said in an e-mail.

CBS said it had nothing to do with Cox’s directive to the paper, and the newspaper’s editor did not respond to a request for comment.

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Athmer declined to comment on whether Rawls was taken to task for the memo.

“There is nothing more important to us than our role as a watchdog in this community, and we will never back down from that job,” he wrote. “The article in question is a critique of television entertainment shows. You will see if you read our newspaper that we have routinely published these kinds of critiques — pro and con — about all kinds of shows and networks.”

“Far from hindering our objectivity, our relationship with WHIO-TV has strengthened our ability to cover the most important concerns in our community. This is what our readers – and WHIO-TV’s viewers – expect from us, and we are committed to doing our best every day,” Athmer concluded.


Cox spokesman Michael Athmer told TheWrap