WPXI’s “truth test” also aired October 12 on WJAC in Johnstown (but is tough to find on the station’s web site). WJAC is also currently owned by Cox Media Group. News Director James Platzer, a former journalism instructor at Penn State, said the WPXI work is a help to them. WJAC has done some political coverage and co-sponsored a Critz-Rothfus debate earlier this month but the station is too small, he said, to devote many resources to factchecking political ads.
“[WPXI has] staff that can do that, and the common ownership and larger staff help,” Platzer said. “In the primary, we coordinated election night coverage and [a WJAC] anchor participated in a debate.”
“I’m not sure if any more [factchecking stories] are coming. It’s one of those where we wish we could do more. When they offered to help, it was a blessing to us.”
How long WJAC’s relationship with the larger WPXI will continue is an open question. WJAC is reportedly one station Cox is looking to sell.
Overall, the imbalance in political ads aired and political news offered by these TV stations is staggering. It’s a disparity not unique to PA-12 and one I’ve written about before—in a piece focused on a primary race in northeastern Pennsylvania and headlined, “28 hours of political ads (and a few minutes of news)”.
There is still a bit of time for Pittsburgh-area stations to move their Dopplers over and put the expensive, hard-fought Critz-Rothfus race at the center of their news radars.