You may have read in the Columbus Alive that the Free Press/Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism (CICJ) was the only nonprofit member of Greater Columbus Community Shares excluded from this year’s charitable giving campaign at the Ohio State University. Twenty-one organizations were let in – only one left out.

And let me stress, left. OSU administrators insist that the Freep’s editorial content has nothing to do with their bizarre and misinformed decision. After all, they were totally unaware that the Freep’s summer issue cover story attacked the OSU administration for its handling of the spring CWA strike and its indefensible invitation to U.S. Representative J.C. Watts to serve a commencement speaker.

OSU Human Resource administrator Ned Cullom told the Alive that he and Human Resource Director S. John Taflan excluded the CICJ because the organization doesn’t “directly address the health and human services in Central Ohio.” I guess we’re not the League of Women Voters or the American Civil Liberties Union that clearly serve such a function, according to Cullom and Taflan. Both groups were let in the OSU campaign.

Certainly Cullom has a point. In looking back at the 30-year history of the Free Press, there’s very little we’ve done to promote the health and welfare of people in Central Ohio. Sure, we were the first Western newspaper to report on the killing fields in Cambodia, as well as having a reporter inside the Native American siege of Wounded Knee. But what does that matter?

We no doubt disturbed the people of Central Ohio when we were the first publication to report that there were gays and lesbians in our midst and they had human rights and deserved to be treated equally and fairly.

We were too busy at the Freep in the 1990’s to care about the health and welfare of people in Central Ohio. We just broke almost all the major stories on the health effects of the dioxin-producing trash burning power plant and led the campaign to shut it down. We’ve still got some old bumper stickers, if Cullom wants one. Of course, we were just being thoughtless when we reported how inmates at the Franklin County workhouse were being used to sift through toxic ash at the trash plant in order to recover heavy metals.

The paper also broke the story on Laidlaw’s massive pollution in Hilliard (“Hilliard Held Hostage”) that led to the largest fine for environmental pollution in Columbus history. Years before it became a story, the Freep reported on radioactive contamination at both Battelle’s West Jefferson property and here in the city.

For a decade or so, during both the Celeste and Voinovich administrations, the Freep received Women’s Health Month grants from the State of Ohio Department of Health for reporting on women and lesbian health issues. During the early years of the Clinton administration, the Free Press sponsored a tour by Canadian health care workers, including the President of the Canadian Nurse’s Federation, on the single-payer health care issue.

For 30 years, the Freep has written about the plight of the homeless, the poor, the uninsured, the exploited and the ignored. We promote services and organizations to help people in need. Cullom might want to refer to the Activist Organizations pages of the Freep or our archives held at the Ohio Historical Society and the Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan and the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Cullom’s right. The Free Press is nothing but a group of slackers, concerned with kissing the ass of major corporate donors and fretting over the success of the Buckeye football team. We’ve done nothing for the health and welfare of Cullom and President Kirwan’s wealthy friends. We deserve to be banned.