By: Diane Benjamin
Every major news source in Bloomington-Normal is supported by thousands of your tax dollars. In less than two years your tax dollars went to:
WJBC etc: $148,965.78
Cities 92.9 etc: $30,474.30
City governments send regular payouts to these entities for thousands of dollars in what they call advertising. Not limiting themselves to just essential government services has provided government the means to control the media narrative.
WGLT is obvious – their headquarters is at a state funded university feeding directly off of tax dollars coming from everywhere. WJBC, Cities 92.9, and the Pantagraph fly under the radar with enormous amount of money in advertising from local governments without taxpayer knowledge.
There are no disclaimers, disclosures, or limits to the amount of money that elected officials can funnel to local media in exchange for favorable coverage. Will local elected officials appear on the radio or have scheduled meetings with the Pantagraph if they know media is actually investigating and will ask hard questions? NOPE. The local elected and the media know they are part of the buddies club.
There are very specific legal limits and disclosures for anyone who attempts to influence public policy with money. There’s no getting around the fact that the local news outlets are influencing public policy with their commentary. Remember the Pantagraph editorial that refused to mention the name of the one candidate who did such a poor job gathering signatures on petitions the Election Commission agreed to look at over 300 signatures and threw out over 200? (Tari Renner)
If the elected used campaign funds to buy off media it would be illegal. Instead, they use your tax dollars. The media gladly cashes the checks.
Neither has to disclose what they’re doing.
Has any media source reported on the massive tax increases under Renner? The names of aldermen who went along with him? How about the debt per capita Koos has accumulated? Anything? Why are former WJBC employees running WGLT instead of students? The school newspaper is run by students!
Have you heard media concern because Mayor Tari Renner failed to keep his 2013 campaign promise to repair all broken streets. Did he campaign on borrowing the money to fix the roads? No, but that’s now the plan.
Not a single story appeared to suggest that a taxpayer-funded hotel in Bloomington might put other hotels out of business.
WJBC went out of their way to avoid what really happened at the Coliseum with CIAM in an attempt to make Renner look responsible to taxpayers. A responsible mayor wouldn’t have gouged taxpayers with the massive tax increases Renner has inflicted, while ignoring Coliseum operations before CIAM quit.
When tax money is directed by partisan politicians during an election cycle and there are no limits, you won’t get real news.
People claim they want money out of politics while not knowing government is spending your money to shape the media message . If we can’t trust a political campaign that doesn’t disclose who gives them money, why should you trust media that does the same?
Of course the local media will disagree, they have too much to lose to not fight back. Their fight won’t be realizing the errors of their ways – it will be attacking what they see as opposition to their dominance.
Keep that in mind as the election heats up – truth will not come from any source profiting off taxpayers. Coverage of any candidates who think government shouldn’t be in the entertainment business will not be treated fairly because media lives off government follies. Media will pick their favorites and try to disparage all others. The FAKE NEWS machine will be in high gear.
Below is what Normal and Bloomington paid local media. WGLT can’t be determined – Normal pays Illinois State University over $100,000 a year. Bloomington paid ISU almost $40,000 in 2015 and over $60,000 in 2016.
Cumulus is WJBC and sister stations
Great Plaines Media is Cities 92.9 and sister stations. Pilot Media is at the same address.
Bloomington has spending by Vendor on their website, I had to FOIA Normal.
Source: Expense By Vendor FY 2016
Cumulus Broadcasting: $32,745.84
Great Plains Media: $14,347.00
Cumulus Broadcasting: $28,971.00
Great Plaines Media: $6,587.30
Fiscal Year 2016: http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=11540
Cumulus Broadcasting LLC $40,289.89
Pantagraph Publishing Co $114,039.27
Pilot Media LLC $3,170.00
Fiscal Year 2015 http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=9335