Recently, the New York Times ran a correction about an article that appeared on environmentally friendly homes. The correction had nothing to do with the article, but everything to do with the freelance writer who reported it. The writer, it seems, failed to disclose on her contract that she had performed writing work for an organization. One of her sources quoted in the article had donated money to the same organization.
Many questions arise from such an appearance of conflict of interest for independent journalists. Many of us have donated our time, working pro-bono for pet causes. On short months, when there isn’t enough freelance journalism work to pay the bills, we’ve also had to take work outside of journalism. We know what causes we’ve worked for and we know what companies we’ve accepted work from, but we also know (or at least we should) know to stay away from those entities when we’re back to doing our love of reporting.
Are we now expected to know what causes our sources are associated with?
What do you think? Is this about an independent reporter not disclosing all of her work or is it about being expected to know what causes your sources support?
Has this futher tarnished the reputation of independent journalists?
See the full correction here: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/29/pageoneplus/corrections.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin