Am I blue? No, but I have a right to speak, radio host argues
The owner of a chain of Illinois news outlets — including this one — answered critics and defended the right of conservatives to have a voice in the largely blue state during a recent broadcast of a Chicago-based radio talk show that he co-hosts.
"I'm the first newspaper publisher in, apparently, modern times who has a point of view," Dan Proft, co-host of Illinois Rising, said. "And that is a problem, such a problem, that I'm a brazen propagandist engaged in mock journalism, according to Eric Zorn. I'm also something of a political operative, though Mr. Miner over at the Reader imagines I'd prefer a loftier description."
There's a far more serious motive behind the name calling, Proft's Illinois Rising co-host, Pat Hughes, said during the same broadcast.
"Look at the irony," Hughes said. "Eric Zorn is commenting on your newspaper from a newspaper. He's making political commentary. And the fact that there's other opinion leaders out there that can get out to readers in a way that's more efficient, in a way that they're interested in consuming the news, is a threat not just to their model economically but to the monopoly that they feel they have on thought. And from Zorn's perspective -- and I suspect Miner's perspective -- from left-leaning, liberal orthodoxy."
Proft is co-founder with Hughes of the Illinois Opportunity Project.
Proft is also a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
Proft and Hughes were responding to a March 23 op-ed article in the Chicago Tribune in which Zorn referred to Proft's Illinois news outlets as "mock journalism." Zorn's column was published a week before a similarly themed piece in the Chicago Reader by Michael Miner titled, "If your community news is slanted, Dan Proft may be to blame."
Zorn's column wasn't the first time the Tribune writer has targeted Proft. In July 2009, a few weeks after Proft announced his ultimately failed bid for the Republican nomination in the governor's race, Zorn used his column to call Proft a "seethingly eloquent conservative attack dog."
The Tribune has allowed Proft space in its columns to voice his views as well. On July 11, 2016, it published Proft's op-ed piece, "How to (really) achieve the 'important conversation,' " about the the sniper attack in Dallas a few days earlier that killed five police officers.
Proft criticized the mainstream news media's coverage of the incident, as well as other incidents in which police officers have been shot by black men, and urged less-biased, more-objective coverage.
"There is plenty of intellectual room between 'cops can do no wrong' and 'cops are all racists waging war against minorities,' " Proft wrote. "The reasoned room in between is occupied by most of the Americans who are not on television, radio or Twitter."
Proft cited the apparent hypocrisy of critics dismissing his news outlets as not being objective while their own work is published by companies with far less transparent political biases.
"I'm transparent about my point of view," Proft said. "That certainly informs the stories that we select to cover and the way that we cover them. And that's the case for everybody in journalism. I hate to break it to those who think there's this superhuman race of journalists who have no point of view. Every human being has a point of view, and it influences how they do their jobs. So, if we could just start from that agreed upon point, then maybe we could get somewhere. But they have an agenda."
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