Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » How do we best balance community spirit vs. fairness?


Here's an email I sent to Advocate ethics board members Thursday. We welcome your thoughts, too, as we consider the issue.

Faith reporter Jennifer Preyss has been invited to join the board of directors for Perpetual Help Home. We covered this territory before when Aprill Brandon, then our entertainment reporter, was invited to join the board of Victoria Ballet Theatre.

We encourage Advocate employees to be active members of our community. However, in the newsroom, we balance this community spirit against the public perception that we might favor any organization to which we belong. (The Society of Professional Journalists' principle at play is to act independently.)

With that in mind, we agreed any reporter should not write about an organization if she sits on that board or plays some other active role in the group. Aprill didn't end up joining the ballet board because we didn't think we could avoid, with a limited staff, having our entertainment reporter write about such a prominent arts group.

We write less about Perpetual Help because the organization works more behind the scenes of our community. I'm inclined to agree to this request, as long as local editor Becky Cooper feels we can have other reporters write about Perpetual Help and Jennifer makes it clear to the board she can't promise special coverage.

Other thoughts? We can handle this discussion by email or add to our agenda at our next meeting.