Disclosure, continued

Craig Silverman, editor of Regret the Error, adds his answers to the Times disclosure questionnaire. He likes the notion of the questionnaire, as do I, and also adds good points to the discussion, including:

By not requiring its staff members to fill out the questionnaire, the Times is creating a two-tier system of disclosure within the paper. Just because someone is a freelancer, it doesn’t mean that they are more likely to plagiarize, get facts wrong, accept junkets, or allow their personal convictions or interests to cloud their work…. Singling out one group won’t solve the problem. Position does not dictate professionalism. Yet the Times seems to be sending the message that the investments, community activities and personal beliefs of staff members have no effect on their work, and that things are different for freelancers. It’s doubtful that senior editors there would be willing to argue this, yet the questionnaire remains for freelancers only. Staff members come under much more scrutiny from outside interests because of their position, yet they get a free pass? It doesn’t make sense. The Times does have its detailed Ethical Journalism policy for staff members, but having a written policy is not the same as asking for specific information from each person.

I don’t know that they don’t have a questionnaire for staffers. I would know if they made them public, which I think is needed.

  • i was a little surprised about todays news about david the chamaeloan
    i think the new labour spin doctors have shot themselves in the foot big time

  • No two-tiered system of disclosure will remain valid, for long. Calls of bias will become calls of secret bias, and the cover-up of bias — so I’m sure your crusade will be successful on more up-front bio info.

    What won’t happen as quickly is to present evidence for, and against, any particular policy, and its main alternative. Like “more troops” as the big error in Iraq. What the results with more troops would have been has not been clearly said (or I’ve missed it), so it’s a vague “things would be better”.

    But disclosure’s a good start. I’d add three or four specific political policy issues:
    1) for or against Bush’s invasion of Iraq (I’m for);
    2) for or against Bush’s Tax Cuts (I’m for);
    2b) for or against Bush’s Spending increases (I’m against);
    3) for or against Bush’s moral positions of pro-life, civil unions not marriage for gays (I’m for).