I teach journalism at a very small school, where staff members are also likely to be involved in the student activities on which the paper is supposed to report. I’m keeping my eye out for real-world conflicts of interest, so that my student-journalists can be informed when they make their own ethical decisions.
The union representing Los
Angeles police officers is pressuring the owner of San Diego’s main
newspaper to change the paper’s editorial stance on labor issues or to
fire its editorial writers.
The feud is rooted in the recent purchase of the San Diego Union-Tribune by Platinum Equity, a private Beverly Hills firm.
Platinum relies on a $30-million
investment from the pension fund of Los Angeles police officers and
fire fighters, along with large sums from other public-employee pension
systems around the state, to help fund its acquisitions of companies.
As League President Paul M. Weber views it, that makes the League part
owner in the flagging Tribune and League officials are none to happy
with the paper’s consistent position that San Diego lawmakers should
cut back on salaries and benefits for public employees in order to help
close gaping budget deficits. — Joel Rubin
Connect the dots, and you can see the potential problem. The owner has already put the editors and the police union in an awkward position. The next time the paper uncovers a rumor of police misconduct, and the paper determines the rumor is unfounded, it will look like paper is soft-pedaling the bad news in order to appease the new owners.