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11.03.2004

Gannett's Ethics Statment

It mirrors the SPJ's in almost everyway. This is the best I could find, because the Chronicle doesn't list an ethics code on its website (though the Muncie Star Press, also owned by Gannett, does). Here's some of what Gannett says:

  • We will be honest in the way we gather, report and present news.
  • We will be persistent in the pursuit of the whole story.
  • We will strive to include all sides relevant to a story and not take sides in news coverage.
  • We will remain free of outside interests, investments or business relationships that may compromise the credibility of our news report.
  • We will maintain an impartial, arm's length relationship with anyone seeking to influence the news.
  • We will avoid potential conflicts of interest and eliminate inappropriate influence on content.
  • We will be free of improper obligations to news sources, newsmakers and advertisers.
  • We will differentiate advertising from news.
I find it hard to reconcile all that with a newspaper that uses a "reporter" to write about an organization that he works for and who is charged with "promotion of Taylor University events, people and programs to the news media." Do we really think he'll pursue all sides of the story? Or would he be compelled to report only the positives? Would the "whole story" be on his agenda like it should be on the paper's? Is the paper not "taking sides" by using his reporting? Isn't this a tie to "outside interests" and "business relationships" that may affect real coverage and their duty to inform the public? Is Taylor seeking to influence the news? If so, shouldn't they maintain an "impartial, arm's length relationship" with the school? Is this an appropriate "influence on content?" What kind of obligation does this produce in regard to the paper's relationship with the school? Isn't this just advertising wrapped up to look like news?

Those are questions that deserve answers. And I happen to know that at least one person from the Chronicle has visited the site so far today. I wonder if they'll have any response.

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