CNC editor: No MacArthur Foundation interference

Jim O'Shea

Chicago News Cooperative editor Jim O’Shea has responded to Geoff Dougherty’s claim that the MacArthur Foundation-CNC relationship soured because the nonprofit news outlet “had enough reporters and know-how to cause problems with MacArthur buddies at City Hall.” He writes in an email:

Even a cursory amount of reporting would show that to be totally untrue. No one at the foundation ever complained or interfered with our coverage in any way. At all times, MacArthur and everyone involved in our relationship acted with integrity and professionalism. Any inference to the contrary is completely wrong. MacArthur never reneged on any commitments to the CNC. The decision on the kind of funding the foundation would consider for us was motivated totally by our tax status.

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2 comments
  1. So, to sum up: MacArthur, at least for the moment, has cut off CNC’s funding, but hasn’t interfered with its news coverage. Other than by forcing the CNC to suspend operations, of course.

    That seems to me like the worst kind of interference.

  2. pelham said:

    O’Shea seems to be “responding” to something Dougherty didn’t say, perhaps as a purposeful distraction.

    The MacArthur Foundation most likely did not interfere at all in CNC’s work. But that says nothing about whether or not they feared that the CNC might eventually turn its guns on something local that is near and dear to the foundation’s heart — which is all the more likely in the case of the city’s schools, an increasingly glaring subject that can’t be avoided for long by any self-respecting news organization.

    Dougherty’s assertion that the foundation could easily have found the means to navigate through any tax obstacles if the will had been there has the ring of truth. Of course, we’ll never know. But it does seem odd that a few cities much smaller than Chicago now have well supported and responsible online reporting projects while Chicago — immense as it is and such a fat, fat target in need of journalistic skewering — just can’t manage to support even a modest effort like the CNC.