Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Beachwood Reporter

 By Steve Rhodes

A news organization's business side is (theoretically) separate from its editorial side, but when the business side doesn't conform to the editorial side's values - which in large part establish a media company's brand - the organization loses its moral authority.

For example, it's hard to take the Tribune's carping - as agreeable as I am to the rationale - about Pat Quinn giving raises to his staff during a time of great financial distress (see "Clueless in Illinois") when the Tribune Company wants to hand out exorbitant bonuses as well as golden parachutes to its top executives even as it languishes in bankruptcy court.

Yes, there is a difference between public money and private. But greed, self-dealing and financial mismanagement stinks no matter who is perpetrating it, and a news organization opens itself up to charges of hypocrisy as well as simply damaging its own credibility.

When a U.S. bankruptcy trustee says the Tribune Company doesn't understand "shared sacrifice," it sounds like a phrase ripped from a Tribune editorial pointing a finger at everyone but themselves. Breathless reporting, however justified, about shenanigans in corporate suites rings hollow when reporters seem oblivious to what is going on in their own.
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