There was a big hubbub a year ago when the Columbus Dispatch editorialized against set-aside contracts for Black businesses and the Black community went ballistic. Former Mayor Mike Coleman had to sweep in and rescue the Dispatch and save a shred of its credibility in the Black community of 300,000 or so potential readers.

All that dovetailed with the takeover by the Dispatch's parent GateHouse of the better-known Gannett Corp. This created an amalgam of 200-plus daily newspapers whose flagship was the national newspaper USA Today. The name Gannett was adopted for the combined company.

The old Gannett was a pioneer in prioritizing social and economic justice for minorities, women and LGBTQ. Its policies became the law of the land for all the newspapers in the combined enterprise, including the Dispatch.

Under GateHouse, the Dispatch had been modifying its angry white rich Republican guy editorials and news coverage. The advent of the new Gannett brought the Dispatch to full-on editorializing for social and economic justice along with extensive news coverage of minorities, women and LGBTQ. The dominance of white males as newsroom managers and star reporters has begun to wane. A Black woman was named editorial page editor, but her ability to endorse candidates was taken away and editorials became bland as they had to be approved by a citizens' committee. The star columnists from the New York Times and Washington Post mostly were kicked out and replaced by cookie-cutter opinions by local folks peddling the point-of-view of their employer or political affiliation. Most of the latter was predictable and not worth reading. Columnists get their value from either telling us something we do not know or by talking about something we do know in a unique and sometimes entertaining way. Letting the locals spew is cheaper than paying for top-flight columnists, so the ongoing budget-cutting and layoffs at the Dispatch may be to blame.

The big test of a newspaper newsroom and its opinion section (now called Conversation, as innocuous as you can get) is covering the two-year state budget that the Ohio Legislature had to pass by June 30. As Joe Biden often famously quoted his father (and I paraphrase): show me your budget and I will show you your priorities.

I am taking a selective look at the recently passed $75 billion budget to see how it measured up regarding the Dispatch's newly found priorities of social and economic justice for minorities, women and LGBTQ because the Dispatch failed to do so.

The Dispatch editorials echoed its current "let's all get along theme" and its recent pronouncement that if people of different political opinions would just have pleasant conversations among themselves, they could come to some understanding on the highly-charged political issues of the day. The latter is as simplistic and sophomoric as it gets. The Trumpers and the hard-right crowd, who think the election was stolen, and the Bidenites and the hard-left crowd, who think Trump should be incarcerated and that Biden's victory saved the country from totalitarianism, have nothing in common and the notion of bringing them together for a civil conversation is preposterous unless you like angry shouting, fistfights and weapons.

The Dispatch generally failed to cover and emphasize that the Republican Ohio Legislature and GOP Governor Mike DeWine, who signed the whole thing with a few veto trinkets, passed a measure to please their political base, to attract big political donations and to solidify their hold on state government in the election of 2022.

Hence, they gave the rich a big income tax cut. Not much social and economic justice there.

And they pumped more money into charter and private K-12 schools. While there are some noteworthy non-public schools that cater to minorities, most of the money will go to largely white schools whose folks do not want their kids going to public schools where, in large cities, minorities attend in greater proportion than their population.

Money for after-school childcare and general child-care assistance was far from bountiful, again hurting minorities, women and LGBTQ.

Underprivileged children were hurt during the pandemic because they lacked the technology to learn from home and their communities lacked internet access. Little was done in the budget for these kids and their parents, who are more likely to be minorities and women.

What about money to develop and support business and professional ventures for minorities, women and LGBTQ? Nothing significant in the budget reports I read.

Governor DeWine chocked and refused to veto a measure that allows doctors to refuse treatment based on "moral reasons." This is a grotesque slap in the face of LGBTQ.

I could go on and on but suffice it to say that the Columbus Dispatch does not walk its own talk when it comes to the state budget's lack of support for minorities, women and LBGTQ.

Stagnant Ohio will never become Beautiful Ohio for minorities, women and LGBTQ as long as the Republicans running the state continue to set misguided budget priorities and as long as the Columbus Dispatch lets the Republicans get away with it.

July's Campaign 2022 Scorecard

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan remains my top Democratic pick for U.S. Senate in 2022. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley continues to get my nod for governor and Amy Acton remains my choice for lieutenant governor. In two changes, retired Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill becomes my new choice for attorney general and former U.S. Rep. Zack Space is my new pick for secretary of state. I still like Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley for auditor and House minority leader Emilia Sykes seems best for treasurer. Four men, three women, and one racial minority. Not bad.


-- Republicans can tell a nobody when they see one. Ex-Gov. Johnny "Nobody" Kasich finished near the bottom of the pack in a straw poll for the presidential nomination in 2024.

-- The social issues that Republicans will throw at Democrats in Ohio in 2022 are teaching critical race theory and transsexual sports competition.

-- Columbus City Councilwoman Elizabeth Brown was passed over for the appointment as Franklin County commissioner in favor of State Rep. Erica Crawley. U.S. Sen. Sherro  Brown's daughter may return to the Campaign 2022 Scorecard in August.

-- Do you want a journalist on Columbus City Council? Former Channel 6 investigative reporter Tom Sussi is running as an independent against three hand-picked Democrats. Want to shake up the political status quo at City Hall? Vote for Sussi.

-- The new Crew stadium opened at night last week to an overflow crowd. No coverage in the next day's Dispatch because its deadline is around 4 p.m. It was a kick in the pants for fans who wanted to read all about it in the next day's paper.

-- On July 1, Dispatch readers were reminded that the paper turned 150 years old. They were not told how the paper and its staff have been gutted over the past 6 years and how it is now printed in "Meeshigan."

-- Six years ago I wrote my first Columbus Media Insider column for the Columbus Free Press. It was about the sale of the Columbus Dispatch by the Wolfe family to GateHouse. I quickly expanded my portfolio to include politics because the news media and politics are intertwined. I thank you, dear reader, for your attention and for letting me know what you like and dislike. And I thank you, dear editors, for making my dream of writing a column and speaking my mind on a regular basis come true.

(Please send your comments and suggestions for future columns to John K. Hartman,  

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