Cox Newspaper Editor's Memo: Don't Allude to Our Sister Station Negatively

Cox Media Group is in a pickle after a newspaper editor in Dayton issued an internal memo, which seems to instruct staffers to portray CBS–Cox owns CBS affil WHIO in Dayton–in a more favorable light. has the story. 

The matter came to be when the Dayton Daily News picked up a story from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, which grades the networks’ performance this fall–and gives CBS a C.  

That prompted Dayton Daily News editor Rashida Rawls to whip up a memo that states:

The wire filler story on D2 of today’s Life section cast all of the TV networks, including CBS, in a negative light. Our news station - WHIO-TV is a CBS-affiliate station. We do not want to run any stories that cast our station in a negative light or even allude to it negatively.

I know we’re working really hard - and very quickly - to do the very best in selecting wire stories. But I wanted to bring this to our attention so that we can be more careful in selecting nondaily wire copy and in our editing and/or selection of stories that contain references to CBS. Remember, we are better together.

The weird thing is, the original TV review is really not that critical of CBS. The closing “Comments” reads:

Experimental, self-contained dramas are great - in the summer, as we learned from “Under the Dome.” CBS’ strength is in procedurals, which is exactly why it’s wisely developing another “NCIS” spinoff. 

Cox has had a rough few months, starting with KTVU Oakland’s embarrassing gaffe regarding the bogus names of pilots involved in the San Francisco plane crash in July, the ill advised tweet from the Atlanta Journal Constitution last month, and now this.

A Cox rep tells Romenesko:

We can assure you that our partnership with WHIO-TV, a CBS affiliate, in no way keeps us from objectively covering any news story. There is nothing more important to us than our role as a watchdog in this community, and we will never back down from that job. 

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.