This explains alot...
Don't pretend "Humboldt Watershed Council" is an unbiased legitimate public service organization. "Humboldt Watershed Council" is nothing more than the latest, most effective manifestation of Ken Miller's jihadist crusade against Palco/Hurwitz/Maxxam. It's one thing for John Driscoll to have a source. It is entirely another thing entirely for him to be in bed with the group, to be used as a propaganda tool in Mark Lovelace's full-court-press mission to seize full advantage in the face of the Palco Chapter 11 filing.
This allows Mark Lovelace to control the spin, put his own self-serving context around every detail of the reporting. It allows him to irrevocably influence public perception and opinion, to "control the debate." It is an unforgivable breach of journalistic ethics, and an incredible disservice to the readers who trust the Times Standard to present them with factual unbiased information.
The only equivalent would be if Driscoll was sitting in Maxxam's corporate offices with Palco's lawyers and reporting through their prism.
If the Times Standard is going to embed a reporter with the activist attack group, they should also embed a reporter with Palco, and put Lovelace's spin on the opinion pages where it belongs.
There's no excuse for this.
Times-Standard violates media ethics
Part of a newspaper’s role is to be held accountable by itself, its readers and other media. When a newspaper oversteps ethical boundaries, it is essential that it be pointed out.
Case in point: Reporter John Driscoll of the Times-Standard has been writing stories about Pacific Lumber Co.’s bankruptcy proceedings based on a telephonic conference call from Texas that is reportedly being paid for by Mark Lovelace, president of the Humboldt Watershed Council. Lovelace invited Driscoll to the Humboldt Area Foundation, where the telephone conference call has been heard by Driscoll.
Neither the Times-Standard nor Driscoll have acknowledged this gift publicly. And it is a gift. At $6 every 15 minutes, the all-day proceedings easily add up to hundreds of dollars.
The Eureka Reporter is paying for its own conference call tie-in, and it was not invited to HAF by Lovelace.
And this is not sour grapes. We were offered a similar opportunity to listen in to the conference call by a local attorney who has been a litigant against PALCO. We declined on ethical grounds.
The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics states reporters should “avoid conflicts of interest — real or perceived.”
At the very least, Driscoll’s actions represent a perceived conflict of interest.
The SPJ states reporters should “remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.”
Listening to a contested bankruptcy hearing on a telephone conference call paid for by Lovelace violates the spirit if not the substance of remaining “free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.”
Journalists should “refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment … if they compromise journalistic integrity,” according to the SPJ.
As we said, at $6 every 15 minutes, the Times-Standard and Driscoll are receiving a significant financial subsidy. We are amazed that Driscoll didn’t see a problem with his actions, once the issue was brought to his attention by The Eureka Reporter.
Additionally, with this revelation, how can Driscoll claim that he is objective in covering environmental issues? It calls into question his entire history of reporting on PALCO-related issues.
When news media overstep their boundaries, it sullies all journalists, and that is why we are drawing attention to this lapse by the Times-Standard and Driscoll. The SPJ states that media should “expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media (and) abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.”
We hope the Times-Standard and Driscoll can learn from this mistake and change direction.
(Editor’s note: The full SPJ Code of Ethics is available online at the Society of Professional Journalists.)
Copyright (C) 2005, The Eureka Reporter. All rights reserved.
More on that Code of Ethics:
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.
—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
— Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
— Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
— Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
— Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
— Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.
Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.
— Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
— Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
— Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
— Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
— Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.
Discussion on Fred's, buhne, eric, and heraldo
Nathan Rushton on the Bankruptcy teleconference disruption
From heraldo's blog:
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Mark Lovelace Responds to Eureka Reporter
Humboldt Watershed Council president Mark Lovelace responds to Eureka Reporter accusations of ethics breach.
Glenn Franco Simmons
The Eureka Reporter
215 4th Street
Eureka, CA 95501
Re: CourtCall and Journalistic Ethics
Dear Glenn and Nathan,
I was surprised to read your editorial on Saturday, regarding the apparently egregious breach of journalistic ethics posed by the presence of the Times-Standard’s John Driscoll at a ‘listening session’ for the Pacific Lumber bankruptcy hearings. I had spoken to Nathan about the arrangement on Thursday, but he expressed no ethical indignation about the issue. Rather, he merely seemed curious as to why he had not been invited too.
I explained to Nathan that the invitation to John Driscoll arose out of conversation in the course of John’s constant, in-depth coverage of the PL story. I would likely have invited Nathan, too, had he and I spoken, but such conversation was hampered by the Eureka Reporter’s relative absence on this critically important story. I was certainly pleased to hear that the Reporter was planning to step up its coverage, and I assured Nathan that he would be welcome to join us in any future listening sessions. In fairness, Nathan reflected much of this in his own column on Sunday.
The Times-Standard and the North Coast Journal have both written some excellent investigative reports on the details of this case while, so far, the Reporter has merely relayed the days events. With this editorial, the Eureka Reporter seems to have chosen to investigate the investigators, rather to investigate the story itself. Even in that the Reporter has erred, getting two critical facts wrong.
For one, the cost of the CourtCall service was paid by the Redwood Forest Foundation Inc, not HWC, though I did make the arrangements. Thus the assertion that this was in some way a ‘gift’ from the Humboldt Watershed Council is simply incorrect.
For two, neither the Humboldt Watershed Council, nor RFFI, nor anyone else in the room was a party to these proceedings. We were on a ‘listen only’ line because we were not participants, but rather observers, as would be any other member of the general public. This is fundamentally different from listening-in with Palco, or with an attorney for one of the parties.
Though HWC is not a party, we do have a deep interest in the outcome of this process, as should anyone in Humboldt County . The bankruptcy of Pacific Lumber Company is a huge story, and how this issue is resolved will have a significant impact on Humboldt County’s future. Through this process, we have the opportunity to finally put 22 years of division and culture war behind us, and to focus on developing a truly sustainable Pacific Lumber Company that our community can once again be proud of.
Organizing this CourtCall listening session was a part of HWC’s ongoing efforts to make this bankruptcy process as accessible and understandable as possible to the broader Humboldt County community. That same goal was the reason that HWC and others sponsored the Bankruptcy 101 workshop, which was attended by over 100 PL workers, retirees, their families and other members of the Fortuna and Rio Dell communities. It must be pointed out that the Eureka Reporter neither attended nor reported on that workshop.
For weeks I have been working to arrange a venue where anyone in Humboldt County could listen in to the bankruptcy proceedings. I have been in touch with the folks at CourtCall to try to arrange for the hearings to be streamed live on the web, which is something they have never done before. I have explored arrangements to provide a public listening venue in Fortuna. Significantly, I also provided Nathan with the necessary information on how to sign up for the CourtCall service.
What is particularly disappointing to me is that I had spent a significant part of my day Friday working on establishing a better, more public listening venue, and I believe that I have finally been able to make an arrangement that would allow any member of the public to join in. I spoke to both John Driscoll and Hank Sims about their respective papers’ interest in helping to fund this effort along with the Humboldt Watershed Council and others. I called Nathan on Friday and left him a message asking if the Eureka Reporter would like to join in this group effort, too. How disappointing, then, to read the Reporter’s divisive editorial the very next morning.
It is in everyone’s interest to work together, to share information, and to focus on providing a service to our community. I hope that the Eureka Reporter’s inaccurate and divisive editorial hasn’t soured the various partners who would be necessary to make this public service possible.
Mark Lovelace, President
Humboldt Watershed Council
# posted by Heraldo @ 8:59 AM