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Union Raises Questions About Projo Outsourcing to Hummel Report - Non-Profit with Conservative Ties

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

 

Jim Hummel

The news organization, The Hummel Report, is being tapped by GateHouse Media to provide investigative stories to the Providence Journal. The Hummel Report was founded with the support of the now-defunct conservative think tank Ocean State Policy Research Institute (OSPRI). 

At the time of the launch, OSPRI wrote, “Through a unique partnership between the Ocean State Policy Research Institute, WPRO 630AM & 99.7FM talk radio, and Jim Hummel, the Hummel Report was created.”

OSPRI continued, "The Hummel Report is a unique Web site that provides a daily news feeds called the Rhode Island Round-Up, access to public documents and information through OSPRI’s Transparency Train, and exclusive videos featuring Jim Hummel as he exposes government waste and corruption."

According to OSPRI, “Our work is focused on crafting sound public policy based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, and traditional American values.”

OSPRI and Hummel

The founder of the conservative Ocean State Policy is now Hummel’s number two staffer — William Felkner.

As GoLocal reported in 2011, Hummel’s number two has been one of the leading conservative activists in Rhode Island, having been founder and former Director of OSPRI. 

The group worked on welfare reform with former Gov. Don Carcieri, and pushed for key changes to Medicaid and the creation of mayoral academies in the state. It also played a behind-the-scenes role in helping to launch the Tea Party movement in Rhode Island. The Board of OSPRI included Carcieri’s wife Sue, and the organization hosted anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.

A major factor in the break-up of the organization was financial issues, according to board member Donald Galamaga. In the absence of “clear direction” from Felkner on the future of OSPRI, he said the board chose to close it. “The board took the most prudent step and said we’re going to shut down and see if there’s another way to do this,” Galamaga told GoLocalProv in 2011.

John Hill, heads the Providence Newspaper Guild

Questions Raised By Projo Union

Last week the newspaper guild that represents many in the Providence Journal newsroom held a protest regarding ongoing cuts to the newsroom and the lack of wage increases since 2008. 

John Hill, President of the Providence Newspaper Guild tells GoLocal, “The guild has many questions about how the new arrangement is going to work and we hope to sit down with management soon."

"This appears to be another step in GateHouse's corporate policy of outsourcing its journalism in the interest of saving money at the expense of a dedicated news staff that has won this paper multiple Pulitzer prizes, but hasn't seen its pay increase since 2008 (while executives here and at corporate levels have been showered with bonuses).  We are concerned but not surprised," said Hill. 

Bill Felkner, headed conservative think tank OSPRI

Hummel Defends the Agreement

In response to questions about the agreement, Hummel told GoLocal, “The Hummel Report will continue to publish the videos on our website as we always have.  And there is no restriction to continuing with two of our other media partners: WPRO and Rhode Island PBS. As for compensation: I have a non-disclosure clause in the contract we signed that prohibits me from disclosing the details.”

Regarding the conservative legacy, Hummel says the board has at different times included members who were not conservative, “Our board was chaired by the late Ed Hart, my former boss and news director at ABC6 and retired Superior Court Judge Fortunato, two individuals who were never accused of being anywhere close to conservative.”

The most recently filed 990 IRS tax form shows that the board as of 2016 included former Republican Attorney General Arlene Violet, former GOP State Representative Nicholas Gorham, and Felkner. There are no active Democrats or former elected Democrat officials on the Board. The Board has included retired Providence Journal Editor Carol Young. "As for the political makeup of our board, I suppose you can read into it what you want, but we are a 501C3, with rules that strictly regulate/prohibit any hint of political slant. We do not look at public officials potentially doing something wrong with a political label," said Hummel.

 

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