Monday, September 19, 2011

News to abuse: History, and a man named Peanut

Screenshot from video celebrating Overby's retirement.
Freedom Forum, the non-profit charity that was the original Gannett Foundation, has installed its new CEO -- only the second in the foundation's 20-year history.

James Duff succeeded Charles "Peanut" Overby, 64, who retains the crucial chairmanship of the two trustee groups governing the foundation and its best-known project, the Newseum, a costly museum about news history in Washington.

That power shift last week was an occasion for the University of Mississippi's journalism school to organize a testimonial dinner that featured a breathtakingly hagiographic video, Charles Overby -- A Journey of Courage. (You've been warned.)

Why Ole Miss? It's home to the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics, which the university named after Freedom Forum donated $5 million to the school. (That financial detail is not included in the 11-minute 30-second video.)

Where did Freedom Forum get that money in the first place?

That's also barely explained. In a roundabout way, it came from a $650 million fortune drained from dozens of GCI newspapers and TV stations over many decades. In a tragic irony, many are now so thinly staffed, they barely meet their First Amendment responsibilities. (The video dispatches all that in just seven seconds: "In 1989, Charles became president of the Gannett Foundation, which later became the Freedom Forum.")

But wait, there's more
And it's all right here.


  1. Here I've been, avoiding the use of Overby's nickname, Peanut, for more than three years now, because I thought it would be too cruel to mention it. And there it was in the video, for all to hear.

  2. A bunch of swells legally robbed the place. The rest of us are left with peanuts and asked to pay $20 admission to see the mausoleum of the news industry.

  3. Guys in those photos have stacked away their money and are ready to fade away to the golf course. What will Duff do with their v.p. pets in Nashville, Dakota, etc. who are about a decade younger? Duff needs to make room for his own loyalists, after all.

  4. Oink. They're attempting to rewrite history. Keep an eye on the FF and Newseum and the big salaries near the top. It's going to continue to get ugly and desperate with that debt load.

  5. Guidestar will post their latest 990's in December or January probably.


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