Does it matter who owns newspapers?

So, the Evening Standard is being sold to a Russian oligarch, while the NY Times is in hock to a man who became rich on a Mexican telecoms monopoly granted to him by a personal friend. Hmm. So, does it matter who owns newspapers? Particularly newspapers like the Times which take it upon themselves to represent all that is best about print journalism?

Over the decades, owners have used newspapers to pursue their own agendas, but most often they have used newspapers to confer a degree of respectability. It’s probably worth a great deal to “businessmen” whose sources of income are questionable at best to be seen as part of an intellectual and moral establishment. Personally, I stopped thinking of the Standard as a newspaper in about 1985, but the Times is another matter. This is what it printed about Carlos Slim in 2007:

But the momentous scale is not the most galling aspect of Mr. Slim’s riches. There’s the issue of theft.

Like many a robber baron — or Russian oligarch, or Enron executive — Mr. Slim calls to mind the words of Honoré de Balzac: “Behind every great fortune there is a crime.” Mr. Slim’s sin, if not technically criminal, is like that of Rockefeller, the sin of the monopolist.

In 1990, the government of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari sold his friend Mr. Slim the Mexican national phone company, Telmex, along with a de facto commitment to maintain its monopoly for years. Then it awarded Telmex the only nationwide cellphone license.

That was an Opinion piece, not a News piece. Try justifying another piece like that now.

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