1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

conflict of interests? (publisher running for school board)

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by wrldfamous010, Jul 12, 2010.

  1. wrldfamous010

    wrldfamous010 New Member

    Hi guys,

    Not sports, but need some advice on coverage... I work in suburb of a major southwest city. We have three solid community news outlets in our city that aren't tied to the "big city's" major daily - two newspapers, and one website that really does do a good job of being a "daily" news source. The website also produces separate monthly and quarterly newspapers/magazines as part of it's total package of coverage. Anyone, it can easily be assumed that the website (and its other products) are the No. 1 news source in our community.

    It was determined today that the owner/publisher (who in a way acts as a managing editor for the paper as well, despite there being an official editor and reporters in place --- he's that involved in coverage) is running for local school board.

    This is a very contentious community when it comes to city council/school board info/coverage. The district has had to lay off hundreds, shut down schools, and the local high school has grown from 300 kids to about 1800 in five years.

    Anyway, how do we cover this properly, the fact he's running? There is a consensus amongst our staff that we have to call out this awful conflict of interest, but to me, it will just sound like sour grapes coming from the No. 2/3 going after the No. 1.

    Problem is - i personally believe the conflict of interest is HUGE, despite my worry about covering it in news or our op/ed pages... This guy's company is, addmittedly, this city's most trusted news source, and now he's going to be part of the school board, yet still supervise coverage of the school district, etc.

    I don't know... any thoughts?
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    It's really not a conflict of interest as far as him being a school board member. It's a conflict with him being the publisher.

    So as far as the public is concerned, it's not a big deal. If he's not your publisher, I would just cover it straight.
  3. lesboulez

    lesboulez Member

    it only becomes an issue if he starts pushing his political agenda in the No. 1 source...otherwise, straight news story of guy running for school board with a mention that he is the publisher of said news source. just like if he worked at the 7-11.
  4. wrldfamous010

    wrldfamous010 New Member

    les: that's the problem. his political agenda (he's very involved) is VERY OFTEN already displayed throughout his publications/coverage... but Ace is dead on -- the conflict is not on how he'll do his job as school board, it's how his outlets will cover the school board.
  5. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    I always get a kick out of things when I have to go through old papers. Back in the 70s, our paper's managing editor was chairman of the school board and he also covered the meetings. He quoted himself in stories.

    I guess back then nobody thought much about it.
  6. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    I agree with the others. As for the election, cover him the same way you would any other candidate, just with a disclaimer somewhere in the story that he is the publisher of such and such.

    Now, if he was to get elected and start using the paper, whether in news or editorials, to promote a particular point of view, then I would have a HUGE problem with it. Hopefully, someone like that can see his own conflict of interest and turn the matter over to someone else.

    But, as for the election, cover it straight. You would lose all credibility to do otherwise.
  7. CR19

    CR19 Member

    Unless the publisher abuses his position with the newspaper to influence coverage of school board events, there isn't much of an issue there. However, I'll admit that it's a fine line.
  8. bydesign77

    bydesign77 Active Member

    There's a similar issue in the county my wife teaches in ... Except not only is he the publisher but he covers the BOE.
  9. CYowSMR

    CYowSMR Member

    We are not allowed to run for ANY public office, even if it isn't in our coverage area. I work an hour away from home and wanted to run for city council, but the company said no. I think it can be COI if the paper does not take it seriously and lets him write the stories, etc. like in Shoeless Joe's post. (Which cracked me up, btw)
  10. wrldfamous010

    wrldfamous010 New Member

    CYowSMR and others: Totally agree; the problem is not now, it's when coverage starts coming through once he's elected. Does he use his "power?" But just to note: he's the owner/publisher, so he can do what he wants. It's not about the paper letting him. He decides that, nobody else
  11. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    Take a look sometime through old papers from the 50s, 60s, 70s ... it was a whole different world, at least at our place. I look at some of the stuff that was done and how it was written and just laugh.

    Even better than that, go back and look at some from 100 year ago, especially headlines relating to race matters.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page