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11.06.2004

A letter to the Chronicle Tribune

Finally, I've had some time to write a letter to the editor of the Marion Chronicle Tribune. I'll let everyone know when (if) I get a response. I sent it less than five minutes ago.

Ms. Pearson,

As a journalist, I have some concerns over the way you cover Taylor University in your newspaper. Routinely, you place articles about the school in the paper written by Jim Garinger, the university's Director of News Services. Mr. Garinger works for University Relations, the school's marketing / public relations arm.

How many other public relations firms or company marketing arms do you allow to place news articles directly into your paper as though they were written by one of you own, objective reporters? Why is Taylor University an exception?

Do you solicit articles on specific events at Taylor, or are they suggested to you by Mr. Garinger and the marketing team? Is Mr. Garinger paid for these articles as though he were a stringer? Or do you simply provide the school with free advertising? Should you not reject news / advertising hybrids like this to protect the editorial independence of your paper -- or is that not important to the Chronicle-Tribune? Is this not an extreme conflict of interest? Does this relationship with University Relations and Mr. Garinger affect your decisions about legitimate coverage of the university when the need arises? How can it not?

Do you make any attempt, other than a small bio line at the bottom of the articles, to differentiate between Mr. Garinger's articles about Taylor and objective news content in your paper?

I look forward to your answers to these questions.

I think the real point is if the paper gives this privilege to any other organization, and if so -- there are serious concerns about the paper's credibility. If not, then why is Taylor special?

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