Local newspaper readers: if you haven’t noticed, Murray Energy and its CEO have virtually disappeared from the pages of Ogden's Ohio Valley “newspapers.” So far in 2020, the Wheeling papers have carried only three news articles about Murray Energy. (For comparison, this is my sixth blog post about the company this year.)
For our local Ogden papers, that wasn’t always the case. You need to go back only four or five years to see how often the CEO or the company was featured in the local papers. In 2015, for example, Robert Murray regularly spoke to area service organizations. As I described in July of that year:
If you are a regular reader of the Intelligencer or this blog, you know the near-monthly routine: Murray talks about coal and electricity to a Wheeling-area organization, he blames the president and EPA for everything that has gone wrong in the coal industry and America, the Intelligencer dutifully writes it all down, and then he and his speech appear on the front page of the Intelligencer the next day. Usually his audience is a Wheeling area service club. . . .
Was there any new information in the front-page article? No. Are you better informed if you took a minute to read the article? I doubt it. Why then was this article on the front page? Robert Murray spoke.
Later that year, writing about a Robert Murray op-ed, I concluded:
when it comes to coal, Murray Energy's opinion is the only one that matters to our local "newspapers."
Not anymore, Murray and his company have virtually disappeared from the pages of our local papers even though the company, facing bankruptcy, has certainly been making news. Here is the most recent example: on Wednesday, Bloomberg Business via Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly (an industry publication) reported:
Lender says Murray Energy violated deal in ‘brazen’ loan default
Here is its sub-headline:
Murray Energy allegedly violated a bankruptcy financing agreement after manipulating financial information, according to court papers filed by one of its lenders.
And here’s how the Wall Street Journal tweeted it:
This story was featured in other business/industry publications and given the previous importance assigned to coal and Murray Energy by the local Ogden papers, it ought to have been front page news. Local readers have not seen it, however. Why not? (We didn’t even get a rewritten Murray Energy PR release.)
Adding insult to injury?
On May 7, the Wheeling News-Register published an editorial, “Area Can Benefit From Solar Energy,” that embraced that alternative energy source. As I noted last week, this was a major paradigm shift -- our Ogden “newspapers” have been climate change deniers for decades and only recently came to concede that it was happening. (Even with that acknowledgement, there position was still pro-coal and anti-alternative. Not unlike our local representative, David McKinley, it has previously been a distinction without a difference.) Last week’s editorial has clearly signaled a change, however. Is this related to Murray Energy?
To switch from the Buffalo Springfield to Marvin Gaye: “What’s going on?”