Saturday, September 29, 2012

WSJ forgets the rule: Opinions, yes. Connections, no

According to Media Matters, the august Wall Street Journal failed to disclose that a number of their op-ed writers, who roundly castigated the President and praised his opponent, were also advisors to the Romney campaign.  From the piece:
In a total of 23 pieces, the op-ed writers attacked President Obama or praised Romney without the paper acknowledging their Romney connections.
Shameful.  Or shameless.  Not sure which.

There's no problem with op-ed writers, as opposed to news reporters, voicing their opinion and taking sides.  What's at issue is transparency.  If you're directly involved with the candidate, organization, issue that you are, um, pimping, you darn well need to let the reader know.  Which is what a number of opinion page editors contacted by Media Mattters had to say.  here's a taste:

Nicholas Goldberg, Los Angeles Times editorial page editor since 2009, said that providing transparency for the relationships of op-ed writers is "absolutely essential."  
"Op-ed writers aren't supposed to be objective or to have no stake in the subjects they're writing about," he explained. "But when a writer does have a particular relationship to his subject that is not immediately apparent to the reader, it is important to disclose that so that the reader can evaluate the argument intelligently."
Max Frankel, a former New York Times executive editor and editorial page editor, called the lack of disclosure "shameless."
"They ought to put a banner saying Romney has approved of this page," Frankel said of the Journal. "It looks like The Wall Street Journal editorial and op ed pages have enlisted in the campaign. They should be disclosing that, that makes it outrageous, it is not a mistake or a slip up, it is a matter of policy to be deplored. The page is shameless, not interested in multiple points of view."
He added that his own paper had established policies to prevent such failures: "We had a standard inquiry of people writing as to whether they had any conflict on this subject or this position that you are taking, we questioned them. If they did, I don't remember publishing pieces with a conflict of this flagrant sort. If you are going to let the campaign speak, you say this is from the campaign."
Read more here.  And thanks, Hilary Tone, for the link.  bk

No comments: