The Dallas experiment

The New York Times reports on a rather disturbing development at the Dallas Morning News.

Some of the senior news editors, specifically the sports and entertainment segment editors, are being asked to report directly to the general manager in addition to maintaining a relationship to the editor and managing editor.

[Bob Mong, the editor of the Dallas Morning News,] said the announcement caused some unease among reporters and editors, and “they had all the questions I would hope they would have, and believe me, they’ll be very vigilant.” He said editors were told explicitly to fight back if they were told to do anything unethical.

Another quote further down the article states that the change grew out of a situation where no advertising employees focused on an online section added by the sports department. While this is certainly one way to keep the problem from recurring, in general I have to question the prima facie connotations of news people reporting to those in charge of advertising sales. It definitely gives the implication that ethics are being set aside even if in reality the ethical issues are being addressed adequately.

I can only imagine how fast the FCC would swoop down on a TV or radio station that did something like this. I wish I had more time to keep an eye on the Dallas Morning News over the coming months to see just what becomes of these changes. Or maybe I won’t have to, and those asked to compromise ethics in reporting the news wind up being part of the news instead. It is understandable that reporters don’t want to wind up being the subject of reports themselves, but should this become a trend it has the potential to trigger the downfall of news reporting as we know it today. And that would be a shame.

Apologies for the slightly glitched version that was posted earlier. I am in the middle of testing some new blog editing software that did not function as well as I had hoped.