To All:

FYI – DFO of S-R’s HBO Blog copied the thread from the S-R’s Daily Briefing Blog on yesterday’s Spokesman-Review’s Code of Ethics Meeting.  Green Libertarian asked a question re a previous comment of mine.  I had quoted the Fancher Report that said the US DOJ had concluded the Cowles Co (Owners of the Spokesman Review) controlled 80% of the media in the Spokane Region.  Green Libertarian was interested in the DOJ’s methodology to arrive at this finding.  I provided an excerpt and cited the relevant pages in this comment.  You can see the S-R server’s time stamp.  When I checked this morning, this comment was no where to be found.

This was the exact point I made at the meeting re censorship in the S-R Blogs.  I leave it for you to decide if this was censorship.

Ron the Cop
Friends of Mark Fuhrman


Good point GL. You asked for my source and that’s where I got the figure. I’m actually going to do some research on this in the near future and will report back.

As for the DOJ methodology cited at that time re the license renewal of KHQ et al it was based on Cowles’ media controlled, “. . . 79.7% of the total dollars on daily advertising dissemination in Spokane.” (See pages 14 & 15 of the Fancher Report). I suppose an argument can be made that cable/DSS TV has diluted this percentage somewhat. These pages are worth a read though re a potential structural economic antitrust argument can be made re the Cowles’ Co media holdings.

Here’s my tally. This is street talk for now. I haven’t independently confirmed this.

Cowles Co own/control or are involved in news production:

Spokane Journal of Business
KHQ TV and perhaps KHQ 590 AM or its successor
Fox-28 News Production
New media relationship with Mapleton Communications to produce news spots


Posted by rocketsbrain  |  20 Feb 11:45 PM


For context here’s the entire thread.  Including my last comment to GL that my previous comment was removed without notice.


Parting Shot — 2/20/08

Christopher Anderson/Spokesman-Review

A small group listens as (left to right) Doug Floyd, Gordon Jackson and Carla Savalli talk about the Spokesman-Review ethics at the Spokane Wash. downtown library today. HBOer Rocket’s Brain Trust attended and is mentioned in Thuy Nguyen’s Daily Briefing blog coverage here.

Posted by DFO  |  20 Feb 5:56 PM

There are 8 comments on this post.  (XML Subscribe to comments on this post)

“There was a bit of a discussion detour about River Park Square, mostly related to conflict of interest and what they said was coverage or lack of coverage about the Cowles company’s business ventures, to which Jackson referred to the ‘Conflict of interest’ section.”

I wonder who mentioned RPS!??! I’m shocked, SHOCKED i say!

Posted by Sam  |  20 Feb 6:16 PM


Actually I was on my best behavior and never used the words “RPS” except near the very end. Really! I’ll have to check my audio tape:-)

I did mention the death of Jo Savage. I said I believed this was a negligent homicide and should be investigated/prosecuted as such. I inferred the S-R could have done more to encourage local law enforcement to do their job.

The heart of the matter is that there is a very unique situation in Spokane. One is that the Cowles Co own/control over 80% of the media in this market. There is an inherent conflict of interest that is difficult for any Code of Ethics to address.

I recorded the meeting and will post on my blog as a MP3 if the audio quality is any good.

Here’s a paraphrase of my comment.


The second concern goes to the heart of a Code of Ethics re a major regional newspaper of record. The question is how to restore editorial integrity that separates the business interests of the owners from the newsroom floor. Historically there is a bright line between editorial content and the business side of a paper. In our unique circumstance a similar bright line needs to be drawn between editorial control and the owners of the paper to have any credibility with the readers.[…]

Even the Washington News Council recommended that the S-R separate itself from the Cowles Co attorney, Duane Swinton of Witherspoon & Kelley because of inherent conflicts of interests. This was recently evident in the withholding of more RPS documents from public disclosure. Witherspoon & Kelley were objecting to this release on behalf of the owners of the Cowles Co.


Because of the significant amount of property that the Cowles Co owns or controls in Downtown Spokane and along the Spokane River to the Idaho border, there inherently is a conflict of interest regarding its involvement in development projects and reporting by the S-R.

Posted by rocketsbrain  |  20 Feb 6:47 PM

The code is a bit over-restrictive IMHO. But thats just me – I’m not a fan of business over-regulating and micro-managing things through policy and procedure. But in this day and age you almost need that to protect yourself as a business from unemployment claims.

Posted by Digger  |  20 Feb 7:29 PM

One is that the Cowles Co own/control over 80% of the media in this market.

How do you arrive at this 80% figure?

Posted by green libertarian  |  20 Feb 7:34 PM


It’s contained in the Fancher Report:

Fancher cited a U.S. Department of Justice study finding that the Cowleses controlled 80 percent of Spokane’s media. That, said the agency, was “repugnant to antitrust principles, inconsistent with the Communications Act’s goal of providing for the expression of diverse views, and, therefore, inimical to rather than promotive of the public interest.” Despite this view, Justice ultimately took no action to limit Cowles cross-ownership of media or revoke their license to KHQ-TV. In a sense, the Cowleses outgunned the nation’s top law enforcement agency.

And this estimate was before the recent announcement of the new venture between the S-R and Mapleton Communications LLC the new owners of Radio Spokane that include KGA1510.


Posted by rocketsbrain  |  20 Feb 8:22 PM

Do you think it’s worth mentioning that the “Fancher Report” appeared more than 30 years ago — before the explosion of cable or the presence of The Inlander and at a time when (if I’m not mistaken in my time frame) there was still a KHQ radio station? Also, what investigation have you undertaken to evaluate the credibility of the Fancher report?

Posted by Doug Floyd  |  20 Feb 9:12 PM

RBT, interesting, if historical, info. I know very well about the Cowles business and property interests.

I would still like to know the methodology for the Justice Dept. to be claiming, at that time, that the Cowles control(ed) 80% of the media. The figure seems a bit high to me, and so I’d like to know their rationale.

Posted by green libertarian  |  20 Feb 9:18 PM


I answered your question but my comment was pulled.


Posted by rocketsbrain  |  21 Feb 6:38 AM