Questions for the Dispatch Editor

Dispatch Editor Ben Marrison is going to interact with the public.

At noon on Wednesday, he is going to participate in a one-hour question-and-answer session on

We urge everyone who has an interest in political media coverage in Ohio to participate – and, of course, to be respectful.  The Dispatch will screen the questions, so we are curious if tough questions will get through.

Here are some questions we urge Plunderbund readers to ask the Dispatch editor:

  • Have any of the companies in which the Wolfe Family – publishers of the Dispatch – have substantial holding received money from JobsOhio?
  • You have written a lot about the growing secrecy of state government records.  On July 14 you wrote, “Based on what I heard from many of you, you’re fired up that state lawmakers are continuing to keep public information from you.”  On July 7 you wrote, “It continues to get harder for you and us to find out what’s happening in government and public agencies.”  How have these concerns shaped the Dispatch’s coverage of the Kasich Administration?
  • Media outlets like the Cincinnati Enquirer and, even, ESPN and Plunderbund, have filed public records lawsuits.  Why hasn’t the Dispatch ever sued the Kasich Administration over access to public records?
  • The Republican Legislature seems focused on abortion rights, guns, and taxes.  Do you believe that these are the most important issues facing Ohio?
  • Does the Dispatch plan any coverage or stories about income inequality in Ohio?
  • Should the office of the Inspector General release the Coingate report?
  • Do you agree with Joe Hallett that “Kasich’s secretive JobsOhio program [is] a potential scandal-in-waiting?”
  • The Columbus Dispatch has never endorsed a Democrat for President.  Should people consider the paper to be unbiased?
  • Do you believe that the media should just “report the controversy.”  What does the Dispatch plan to do in the upcoming campaign to print analysis that allows readers to gain a deeper understanding of issues?
  • What is your favorite Ayn Rand book?
  • In the last election, John Kasich told the Cincinnati Enquirer:  “I’m not worried about transparency. I’m not going to get hung up on that stuff. If you’ve got something you want to know, I’ll tell you. I’m not here to ‘hide the pea.’ My bias is toward openness.”  Do you believe that the Kasich Administration has been biased towards openness?
  • George W. Bush.  Great President, or Greatest President?
  • Do you accept the scientific consensus that global warming is real, and that it is caused by human activity?  How does this believe affect the coverage of global warming issues by the Dispatch?
  • Does the Dispatch plan to hire an independent Ombudsman, or Public Editor, like the New York Times and the Washington Post?
  • Do you believe that Fox News is “fair and balanced?”  Is Fox News a model for the Dispatch?
  • Plunderbund has sued the Kasich Administration for records relating to security at the Governor’s residence.  Will the Dispatch be filing an amicus brief in support of these open records?

This is a good thing.  Usually, Marrisson only addresses important issues like whether a Foxtrot Comic was too risqué for the delicate sensibilities of Dispatch readers.  His public interaction with readers seems limited to printing letters in his Sunday Column that allow his to show how even-handed and big hearted the paper is.  See June 2, 2013 (“We have almost daily discussions about such questions, and we do consider the impact of publishing such stories.”) and July 21, 2013 (“I’m sure you value having a newspaper that presents a diversity of opinion. We certainly appreciate having you as a reader of our paper.”)

Mark your calendars for Wednesday at noon. Join the fun here.

  • Think.

    Why does the Columbus Dispatch rarely mention that Elephant-in-the-Room, ALEC, and its corporate manipulation of Ohio’s GOP “lawmakers” and the legislation they sponsor and pass?

  • fairminded

    ALEC is the legislature.The so-called elected officials including Kasich are just puppets completely controlled by ALEC. This is not a democracy.


    Ohio was previously a national economic leader in good paying high quality jobs and and business and plant locations. These jobs/companies were enticed to Ohio by the work of the former Ohio Department of Development which operated under Ohio’s ethics and open public records laws. The Kasich administration has changed that game plan. Does the Dispatch have any plans to report to the public what these differences are and to report how and why Ohio was previously successful without being secretive? How do the ethics policies compare? Why did companies locate in Ohio previously when the books were open and they were bound by Ohio laws? Why do they have to operate in secret today? How did previous administrations insure that there was no “pay to play” in awarding economic development incentives? How does that compare to the current administration?

  • TJsClone

    ” The Dispatch will screen the questions”

    I’m not holding my breath that any relevant questions will be allowed…

    Except maybe:

    “George W. Bush. Great President, or Greatest President?”


    “John Kasich. Next to Jim Rhodes, Great Governor, or Greatest Governor?”

  • Guest

    “What is your favorite Ayn Rand book?” This seems a bit much in a question to Ben Marrison. The chosen editorial voice of the newspaper, Glenn Sheller, is obviously arch-right as can be. His editorial page’s commentary on issues involving the poor, the uninsured, and the environment generally reflect the worst of today’s Republican right. From demands that Obama ignore urgent warnings from climate scientists to attacks on the safety net to his obsession with gutting Obamacare to his steadfast refusal to hold Republicans accountable, Mr. Sheller’s editorial page consistently opts for knee-jerk rigidity over compassion and in-depth exploration of issues. And Jack Torry’s nasty, watch-me-pretend-to-be-nonpartisan mush may be worse — at least Sheller makes no bones about being a right-winger. But I think your bone to pick is not really with Marrison — who is the first to tell you he has nothing to do with editorial content — but with whoever chose the editorial viewpoint of the Dispatch, presumably the publisher. (And frankly, assuming that Marrison is an Ayn Rand fan is also just overly nasty. Im no Dispatch fan, but Marrison seems like a pretty civil guy.)

  • davescottsc

    Many of these are good, tough questions. But I part company where you ask “What is your favorite Ayn Rand book” as posed to Ben Marrison, simply because I’ve seen nothing to indicate that Marrison is a hard-core right winger or an Ayn Rand acolyte. (And I’ve found him to be a pretty civil guy.) I think the more appropriate question is why Mr. Wolfe chose to give Central Ohio readers such an arch-right, Obama-hating editorial page. From poverty issues to health care access to climate disruption to income inequality to tort reform, the editorial page consistently fails to explore issues with depth or compassion — and that’s a real failing. It’s not Ben Marrison’s failing, though, and I’d rethink that particular hostile question.

  • davescottsc

    I do agree that the Dispatch has been timid about coverage of climate science. And that failing goes beyond the editorial page.

  • anastasjoy

    Boy, it sounds like the Plain Dealer. Their “reader representative” is always hashing over people complaining that a photo ran too many columns wide and stuff like that. My favorite was when the PD was looking into suing people who posted links to the paper because they felt that you should pay them for driving traffic to their site. He mused that maybe the paper should never have “jumped into the Internet surf.”

  • dmoore2222


  • dmoore2222

    Nor are they capitalists like they want us to believe. This is the Republican Socialist Party of Ohio engaging in corporate welfare.

  • dmoore2222

    Fair enough.

  • dmoore2222

    I agree. Expecting the Dispatch to engage in any kind of objective analysis of the issues is folly. They endorsed Kasich and the ALEC agenda and they’re not going to open any real debate over it

  • davescottsc

    Over 97 percent of climate scientists putting their work out in peer reviewed scientific journals agree on the realty and cause of climate disruption. Bodies ranging from the Bush-era Pentagon to the National Academy of Sciences to the World Bank have warned that we face potentially catastrophic consequences unless we start to drastically slash carbon emissions. Yet Dispatch reporters never ask elected officials tough questions about this topic. And the Dispatch editorial page demanded that President Obama do nothing — that he ignore urgent warnings from the most respected scientific bodies in the world, including the NAS – until we see “consensus” from congressional Republicans. (Tee hee hee.)Tell us something, Ben. When four former EPA chiefs who served under Nixon, Reagan and both Bushes warn that the science is clear and we’re running out of time, what does the Dispatch plan to say if they and the NAS are right and your editorial page is wrong? Oops? Sorry, kiddies? Why shouldn’t readers be absolutely livid with this newspaper, whose concern for posterity doesn’t extend to the planet they’ll inherit?

  • DublinIrishBob

    How about asking what the circulation numbers for The Dispatch are, year by year, for the last ten years? Since the population in Central Ohio is growing over the same period and there is no print competition for the newspaper, what does Marrison have to say about these numbers.

  • Red Rover

    Republicans don’t know the meaning of socialist, and I guess you don’t either – or capitalist for that matter. Just because they like hand-outs from the state doesn’t mean they’re not capitalists.

  • dmoore2222

    Yeah. The very handouts they cry about when a little kid gets a subsidized lunch but have no problem taking themselves. Don’t tell me republicans don’t know the meaning of socialism, Bub. They accuse everyone else of it all the time. I know this much, a true capitalist wouldn’t take a handout from the state. They rely on good business practices and decisions to be competitive.

  • Red Rover

    Just because Republicans engage in name-calling doesn’t mean they understand the words they’re using. They’ll say anything they think will form a negative impression of their opponents. The modern state developed along the needs of capitalism, and capitalists throughout history have been only too happy to have the state intervene on their behalf. They just don’t like it when the state intervenes against their interest. You’re thinking more of laissez-faire capitalism, which is an ideal that isn’t practiced on a national scale anywhere. A “true capitalist” is simply someone who invests money, employes people, and makes a profit off of them – and many of them have no qualms with government coercion and subsidies on their side. How many Fortune 500 companies can you name that don’t accept government aid of some form?

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