Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Rochester D&C' Publisher Responds to Guild Ethics Complaint Letter

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Rochester D&C' Publisher Responds to Guild Ethics Complaint Letter

Article excerpt

Publisher Michael Kane of the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle, in a letter to guild leaders, claimed that the paper's ethical standards had not been diminished due to changing efforts on the Web and expanded use of niche publications. But he stressed that the paper would continue to expand its efforts as it seeks to attract readers and advertisers in a competitive industry.

"Let me put your mind to rest here," Kane wrote in the letter to Steve Orr and Gary Craig, two leaders of the Rochester Newspaper Guild. "Though the media landscape is changing profoundly, our underlying ethical principles are not shifting."

Kane's letter, sent late Monday, was in response to a letter he received last week from some 39 guild members. It offered concern over what the signers believed were examples of the paper violating ethical standards and crossing the line between editorial and news, and advertising and news.

"As newsroom and multimedia employees of the Democrat and Chronicle we are growing increasingly concerned with what seems to be the newspaper's -- and Gannett's -- shifting ethical lines," the letter, which E&P wrote about Monday, said in part. "At a time when we are trying to restructure ourselves within a new media environment, our ethical foundation should be more firmly grounded than ever. To be flexible and nimble as a newspaper and multimedia company should not mean our ethics are also flexible."

The guild members went on to cite two recent incidents that they believed had crossed ethical lines. Among them was the apparent byline of the editorial page editor on a news story. "This could give the impression that favorable opinion can be garnered for government projects or programs by approaching the editorial board with news tips, as happened here," the letter stated.

The other was the paper's political blog offering "no distinction between the opinionated musings of editorial writers and the reporting of news staff."

The letter came at a time when Gannett is instituting its highly-promoted Information Center program, in which newspapers are seeking to combine Internet and print operations in a more uniform way. Guild leaders believed some of the conflicts were a result of the new program .

At the same time, the guild is in the midst of a long-running effort to hammer out a new contract. The union has not had a new agreement since the last one expired in 1992. …

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