August 7th, 2009
Here we go again
By Nerissa Young
It’s the start of another academic year. Again, we will be infusing young minds with the principles of the First Amendment and a free press that we all hold dear. We will also be explaining what seems to grow a more nebulous yet seems to be an increasingly obvious phenomenon — conflict of interest.
Duh. Don’t cover something in which you are directly involved or have an interest in the outcome.
Two cases in point. The communications director for the campus Student Government Association volunteered to take that beat. She disclosed her role to the editors. They made arrangements for her to switch beats.
The communications director for the radio station got stuck with the J-school beat but disclosed his role at the time. He was allowed to remain on the beat, but he must pass along stories on the radio station to another reporter.
The point here is not that journalists should not have private lives, but they should disclose conflicts. It behooves us as instructors to constantly explain conflicts of interest and ingrain it in students.
Happy new year!