In my investigative piece into the Tarrant Regional Water District Board, I questioned why the Fort Worth Star Telegram ignored citizen requests over a five-year period to investigate allegations of corruption at the agency. I found it especially odd considering the TRWDâ€™s offices are in the same building as the newspaper. I found it even more odd that the week before the TRWD election that the newspaper should launch an assault against the challengers for the Board.
After receiving no comment on the lack of coverage from editors Jim Witt and John Gravois, I requested to be directed to the paperâ€™s Ombudsman. I was told by Mr. Witt that â€œthe Star-Telegram eliminated the Ombudsman position years agoâ€.
So much for internal journalistic oversight.
I placed a call to Peter Tira, communications director for The McClatchy Company, which owns the Star Telegram. After asking about possible bias or conflict of interest at the Star-Telegram, Mr. Tira brusquely refused to comment, repeatedly directing me back to the newspaper, saying McClatchy leaves local content coverage to the discretion of the local editors. I further enquired if it wasnâ€™t within McClatchyâ€™s purview, as parent company and owner, to be concerned regarding a newspaperâ€™s conflict of interest. I was again rudely referred back to the Star Telegram.
So thereâ€™s no oversight regarding content from the corporate owner, either. One wonders if this is a wise policy, considering McClatchy’s stock is 97% off its high.
More to the point, it appears there is no watchdog at the Fort Worth Star Telegram.