DorobekInsider: NYT covers concern over Scientology’s buy of Governing

Monday - 11/23/2009, 9:49am EST

The NYT this morning as a story about the announcement last week that e.Republic Media, the parent company of Government Technology, was going to buy Governing magazine — and the NYT focuses on the fact that e.Republic’s “top management are Scientologists.”

It’s interesting because the general perception out there is that e.Republic is owned by the Church of Scientology, but the NYT only makes reference to the top management being Scientologists.

In my note on Friday, I did not mention the Scientology connection. I probably should have but, in my reading of Government Technology over the years, I have never noticed any influence, to be honest. But theNYT links to a 2001 article in the Sacramento News and Review, an independent weekly, about e.Republic that said, among other things, that e.Republic’s staff were required to read a book on management called “Speaking From Experience,” written by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology.

Some highlights of the NYT story, headlined Concern at Governing Magazine Over Its Sale to Scientologists:

“There is concern,” [said Peter Harkness, who founded Governing in 1987 and who came out of retirement in August to serve as publisher during the sale process]. “Unquestionably, there is concern.”

Mr. Harkness said that a recent allegation of religious bias at The Washington Times, which is owned by the Unification Church, has exacerbated anxiety amongGoverning’s staff. The opinion editor of The Washington Times recently filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying he was coerced to attend an event hosted by the Unification Church, according to The Associated Press. The founder of The Washington Times is the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, also the founder of the church.

Other details:

Of [Governing]’s 27 employees, 12 were kept on, nine were let go immediately and six others were asked to stay on in transitional roles.

Mr. Corty, the St. Petersburg executive who led the sale, said he was in a no-win situation: if he didn’t sell to e.Republic, which offered the highest bid out of six contenders, he would have been accused of discrimination.

“I felt I would have been criticized either way,” he said.

As I said earlier, I have always been impressed by Government Technology. It is one of my favorite reads. It is one of the most handsome publications out there, but it is also interesting to read and I almost always learn something, which is one of my criteria for publications. And I, personally, have never seen any Scientology link. Of course, I’m not exactly sure how that would present itself.

And a transparency note: Federal News Radio 1500 AM is owned by Bonneville Communications, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, better known as the Mormons. That being said, the church has never influenced anything that we have done. To the contrary, they have shown great farsightedness in trying something very novel — the creation and ongoing expansion of Federal News Radio, which is the first radio station that I know of to move from an online platform to a major market radio frequency.

Tags: press