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April 09, 2005
That Transparency Thing Again...
This time with a twist... it seems another journo was being paid to do political reporting on the side has been busted and fired. But apparently Purcell disclosed his 'night job':
He said he disclosed the environmental state contract to the Herald and got clearance from the state ethics commission. His state contract pays $60 per hour, with a maximum of $10,000.
So what's the problem?
So what's the issue? If Purcell was reporting on the people or organizations paying him to also craft op-eds and assist in other writing then there clearly is a massive conflict of interest. A bit like an industry analyst being paid for consulting by a company and then writing suposedly independent reports on that company and the industry.
But if Purcell wasn't, what's the harm in taking a 'night job' - I think they call it freelance work. (I'm being facetious). Is the implication of much of the commentary on this that a journo can only do freelance work inside the profession - other reporting?
Where this is different - and Malkin gets at this albeit with an extreme parallel - is that this is in effect a Government subsidy. She says, "government subsidies for conservative columnists are as odious as government subsidies for crucifix-defiling "artists". She's getting at the perception issue:
Do we really need another paid partisan hack to confirm what the liberal MSM already unfairly assumes of all conservatives in the media--that we're all on the payroll of the Republican Party and incapable of independent journalism?
Dan is pretty clear on his POV:
Two things here. First, the Herald's initial response was shameful. This guy should have been shown the door the second his government payoff became known.
Second, the conservative wing of the blogosphere has been all too silent to the poisoning of journalistic integrity represented by this example and others like it. (There are exceptions, I'm glad to say.)
This needs to stop if the media - the whole media - are to retain credibility. And the same standards need to be extended to the world of analysts. The same rule applies whether it is a corporate or government subsidy.
Media and analysts need to recognize that there is a difference between transparency and opacity. Behavior like this drives opacity, even when disclosing the details in advance with the intent of being transparent and ethical.
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