Election review: Chicago local news teams lean heavily to the left
A review of publicly available local primary election records conducted by Chicago City Wire revealed that, among the staff members producing Chicago’s local news whose party voting history could be identified, 83 percent were Democratic voters while only 17 percent voted in Republican primaries.
A study of the 146 members of news staff listed on the websites of local stations Channel 2, Channel 5, Channel 7, Channel 9 and Channel 32 indicated that nearly half were unregistered or undetermined, 30 percent voted Democrat, 18 percent were not affiliated and only 6 percent voted Republican.
WBBM-TV, Channel 2, is a station owned and operated by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of CBS Corporation. Among those who produce, report and deliver its news content are five Democrats and three Republicans: a nearly 2-1 ratio.
Channel 5, WMAQ-TV, is owned and operated by NBCUniversal (a subsidiary of Comcast and part of a duopoly with local Telemundo station WSNS-TV Channel 44). Comcast also co-owns regional sports network Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Its Democrat to Republican ratio is 10-1.
WLS-TV, Channel 7, is an ABC-owned-and-operated television station and a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. It has a 4-1 split.
WFLD, Channel 32, also has a 4-1 Democrat to Republican ratio. WFLD is owned by the Fox Television Stations division of 21st Century Fox, and operates as part of a television duopoly with Gary, Indiana CW-affiliated owned-and-operated station WPWR-TV (channel 50).
The most disproportionately weighted station is the one that bills itself as “Chicago’s Very Own.” WGN-TV is an independent television station broadcast as Channel 9. It is the flagship television property of the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of Tribune Media, which also owns radio station WGN (720 AM) and local cable news channel Chicagoland Television (CLTV). WGN-TV is also a “superstation,” and is distributed to cable and satellite subscribers throughout the United States.
It hails itself for having “received numerous awards for programming excellence and community service. The station is proud of the many contributions it has made to television, and is recognized as a leader for creativity, innovation, quality programming and integrity in operation,” according to its website.
But its partisan makeup raises the question of whether Channel 9 is well-positioned to serve the local audience. While the Chicagoland area votes nearly one-third Republican, of WGN-TV’s staff whose voting records were ascertained by this publication, 14 were Democratic voters while just one was a Republican. Its newsroom is 83 percent Democrat and 17 percent Republican; a 14-1 ratio.
Organizations in this Story
454 North Columbus Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
22 West Washington Street
Chicago, IL 60602