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The Chronicle's Conflict

The Marion Chronicle Tribune, a daily newspaper owned by Gannett (the moguls behind USA Today) routinely places press releases from Taylor as "news" on its pages.

These items are primarily written and bylined by Jim Garringer, the university's Director of News Services (not real sure what that title means, actually). Here's the problem, either he's a journalist or a publicist. Clearly, he's the latter -- he works in University Relations and I don't think the university hedges on that. But as a publicist, he's not an objective observer, and the Marion Chronicle violates standards of journalistic ethics by passing him off as such.

Take, for example the Society of Professional Journalists' code of ethics: "Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two," and "Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting," and "Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived," and "Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility."

Yet his articles are placed in news content pages right alongside other news items written by real reporters.

And the one I'm following today: "Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media."


Blogger Dennis Weed said...

I would guess that 50-75 percent of the local content in my hometown paper, , is press releases - cut, copy, paste.
I didn't realize that until recently. For blog content, I asked a number of businesses and organizations to include me on their lists.

November 6, 2004 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

At my paper, we're not permitted do so. Even if we did reuse press releases, we'd re-write them and we'd NEVER give the publicist a byline as if he or she were an objective reporter. That's journalism 101.

November 7, 2004 at 4:33 PM  

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