Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Karla Pomeroy

Karla's Kolumn

Where’s the integrity in journalism gone?


October 15, 2016

Let’s talk Trump and Clinton. No, I’m not going to endorse one or the other. That’s not my style. I know some newspapers endorse candidates but I never have. I want voters who think independently and don’t vote for a candidate because some newspaper or organization tells them to vote for a certain candidate.

I also don’t endorse candidates because I want to remain unbiased in my coverage of candidates and the issues. If I come out in support of a candidate and that candidate does something wrong, unethical, immoral, illegal, then I need to have the freedom to be able to report on it or comment on it on the opinion page.

And that brings me to my main topic. I want to talk Trump and Clinton and the media. Both candidates had some issues with media this week that I want to address.

Earlier this week Trump threatened to sue the New York Times over a story about two women who allege that Trump made unwanted sexual advances toward them including unwanted groping. This followed last Friday’s video of disturbing comments he made on how he treats women. Although during Sunday’s debate he specifically denied actually doing the acts he talked about in the video.

If the story is true, then the New York Times has nothing to worry about. Trump’s not the only person who has threatened to sue a newspaper, nor will he be the last. People have threatened to sue me and the newspapers I’ve worked for and yet, I’m still waiting for the filings. Well, OK, I’m not really waiting because I know what I print is public record, is printed without malice and that I make every effort to be unbiased and factual in my reportings and I teach my reporters to do the same.

Most of the legal threats have come over criminal cases we’ve reported on. One man said his attorney told him the case was sealed. I told him it wasn’t. He said I’d be hearing from his attorney. I never did, because the case wasn’t sealed. If it had been sealed I would never have received the court file.

But, in light of some emails released this week by WikiLeaks, one has to wonder about the New York Times in which a reporter made deals with the Clinton campaign.

According to the WikiLeaks email, the New York Times reporter, as an agreement for access to Clinton, allowed Hillary Clinton and her campaign staff to read stories about her, remove quotes if they didn’t like them and give final approval of an article. That’s not how journalism works. That’s how advertising works. The New York Times editorial staff has apparently forgotten the basics of journalism.

I don’t make deals with sources. If you make a deal you compromise your integrity. I have never allowed a candidate to read a story prior to publication.

Ironically, working in small towns and for small newspapers, I have had candidates ask to write their statement for election editions, which I gracefully declined. This was in Lovell and while it was a council candidate I supported, it was not appropriate to be her “campaign speech writer” in essence.

One thing to understand about articles or stories published in the newspaper. They are published by the editorial staff free of charge but written by the editorial staff and/or edited by the editor. If a press release comes in – it’s not left as is but is edited for journalistic and Associated Press style. Certain things might be omitted and it may be shortened for space. News articles, whether written by us, or submitted, are printed at the discretion of the editor. There is no guarantee an article will be published, when it will be published or where it will be in the newspaper.

Unless of course you’re the New York Times and you have decided to sell your journalism soul to a candidate. It’s hard to trust stories by this reporter because you question, what was left out of the article, what aren’t we being told.

Unfortunately, I see fewer and fewer journalists, especially in mainstream media holding on to their integrity, making sure there is not even the appearance of impropriety or bias. However, I will continue to strive for that in my own reporting and that of my reporters.

This is why I don’t sign petitions, I don’t put up political signs and I don’t endorse candidates in this space. I’ve been tempted during many elections, including this year, but I won’t compromise my principles, unlike the New York Times.


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