LA Times Caught in a Conflict of Interest?

LA TIMES ON EDUCATION-A member of a Facebook group discussing education asked journalism ethics expert Peter Sussman about the LA Times education coverage and posted this. (Shared with permission.)  "I asked a journalist friend about the ethics of the LA Times taking money from Eli Broad while editorializing in favor of his project.” 

Here is his response: 

"Was I tagged because this is such a tough ethical issue to parse? It is not. With this kind of entanglement with the subject of its news stories, the Times has given up the right to expect any trust or credibility for its journalism on education. They are trapped in a massive conflict of interest, and no amount of pro forma disclosure will fix that. It's so sad to see what has happened to that once-great publication.

"You can add to the comment that trust and credibility are the life's blood of journalism, and without it, a ‘new’ organization is no different than any other partisan in public disputes, with the added problem that there is no major paper to hold it accountable, although in this case a blogger has apparently stepped into the breach. People have jeopardized and lost their jobs for defending their editorial independence and standing up to such conflicts of interest. I haven't read the background on the issue you've highlighted, but if all your information is accurate, the Times' problem extends beyond opinions to reporting, however well-intentioned their education reporters are."

Peter Sussman is a retired longtime San Francisco Chronicle editor who is also a past co-author of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.

(Karen Wolfe is a public school parent, the Executive Director of PS Connect and an occasional contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.




Vol 14 Issue 7

Pub: Jan 22, 2016