Newspaper article

Star Tribune Editor: 'If You Want to Campaign, Put Down Your Journalist's Badge'

Newspaper article

Star Tribune Editor: 'If You Want to Campaign, Put Down Your Journalist's Badge'

Article excerpt

[Note: Colin Covert says I'm making a lot of incorrect assumptions about politics here. See his comments, end of piece.]

Following a dust-up yesterday in which Star Tribune movie critic Colin Covert urged Twitter followers to cancel their Pioneer Press subscriptions over a Minnesota Marriage Amendment editorial, editor Nancy Barnes issued this memo Tuesday morning:

I have received a number of complaints from inside and outside of the newsroom with regards to journalists promoting their own political agendas on both the Star Tribune and social media accounts. This damages our brand and our credibility. Journalists take an oath to be fair and unbiased. If you want to campaign, then you need to put down your journalist's badge. I ask that if you have any posts up promoting a campaign or a ballot question that you immediately take it down.

While I'm not quite sure what oath Barnes is talking about, there's no doubt Covert's tweet -- "If you like to vote with your dollars, cancel your subscription to the Pioneer Press. (651) 222- 1111 or" -- got Strib leadership's attention. As documented by Jim Romenesko, Pioneer Press managing editor Chris Clonts complained to Barnes and her managing editor, Rene Sanchez, and "got a genuine note from Rene this morning acknowledging the situation."

Covert tweeted from his personal account; Barnes' memo says branded Star Tribune accounts were also used. I follow as many Strib writers as I can and haven't seen anything, though I don't follow the accounts that spit out mostly headlines. If anyone has the tweets in question, let me know -- @dbrauer or

I certainly disagree with Covert about canceling the PiPress over its half-baked marriage editorial -- and said so here. And as leader of the most closely watched news organization in the state, Barnes has been dogged about quashing even the most fleeting of political expression. The bias-seers still see bias, but the cat-and-mouse game has gotten tougher.

That's the game the dailies play; I'm in the camp that says we're all biased, transparency is better than suppression, let the chips fall. …

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