Who is Philip Anschutz?

It looks like the Washington Post has found the ghost in the story, or maybe it's the elephant under the bed. The topic is billionaire Philip Anschutz's business dealings in sports and media. Doug LeBlanc took a look at the coverage earlier this year when Anschutz bought the San Francisco Examiner and found it to be remarkably light on religion.

But Anschutz continues to fund movies, buy newspapers, and try to get his soccer teams to turn a buck. His latest moves have brought him into the Post's backyard -- thus the large feature story this Sunday starting on the bottom left-hand corner of A1.

The Post piece by Annys Shin focuses primarily on Anschutz's business strategy but it does note -- and not just in passing -- that the new mogul is an evangelical Christian and donates to Republicans and conservative causes.

I should quibble here with the reporter's characterization of Focus on the Family, so here goes: Yes, the organization gets involved in politics but that is not the main thrust of what it does. You wouldn't know that from reading this story.

There are two other places where Shin's unwillingness to dig below the surface hurt an otherwise good piece.

First, Shin didn't dig very far into the movies that Anschutz finances. They're family friendly and eclectic and now let's talk about something else. But Aschutz has funded some genuinely interesting projects, including Holes (the novel it was based on won a Christopher Award in 1999), a live-action version of the Chronicles of Narnia, and a version of Atlas Shrugged. (Here's a link to one of his production companies -- knock yourselves out.)

Second, Shin only scratched the surface of Anschutz's newly acquired Journal Newspapers, likely because they're in competition with the Post's Metro edition. I have only seen three issues of the Northern Virginia Journal but so far I'm impressed. It does a decent job of covering local issues with a growing staff of reporters, the editorial pages are unpredictable, and, hey, it's free. I'm sure I'll be burrowing into its religion coverage before too long.

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