I enjoyed reading Ryan Rainey’s commentary titled “Newspaper ethics not contest of popularity” when I picked up The Badger Herald’s March 27 “dead-tree” edition while in Madison.
However, about the only thing “transparent” in Green Bay Press-Gazette Publisher Kevin Corrado’s recent column concerning the Gannett “journalists” who signed petitions to recall Gov. Scott Walker is that people should be able to see through Corrado’s self-serving spin and notice Gannett has a double standard for publishing what is contained in public records.
While Gannett published the names of judges found on the petitions, the megacorporation wouldn’t come clean about its own “journalists,” whose names can also be found on the same public records. A searchable database with those names can be found online at www.iverifytherecall.com, which also contains copies of the recall petitions themselves.
The not-so-hidden political agenda of these “journalists” is something Gannett is less than forthcoming about. Corrado assumed the editorial position in an effort to try to cover Gannett’s hide rather than identify these “journalists” by name in the interest of full disclosure. Spouting boilerplate baloney about “Gannett’s principles of ethical conduct” is clearly phony.
The actions of what Gannett reports or doesn’t report concerning the effort to recall Walker speak louder than Corrado’s self-serving words. Over the next two months, will Gannett obtain the public records to publish the salaries and benefits of public employees behind the recall effort and also report how much more property taxpayers could pay in the event what the state Legislature enacted last year is overturned? Salaries and benefits typically account for the overwhelming majority of a public school district’s expenses, for example.
As for the ethics training Corrado alluded to in his column, required reading for all Gannett employees should be William McGowan’s “Coloring the News.” Subtitled “How Political Correctness has Corrupted American Journalism,” McGowan’s book includes examples of how Gannett’s misguided management has tainted its news coverage.
Hopefully Gannett will follow state labor standards related to any disciplinary measures those signing the recall petitions might face. I know of at least one instance in the past five years when the megacorporation was investigated by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and found in violation of state labor standards after Gannett improperly released personnel records containing false accusations to smear a former employee.
Kevin Boneske ([email protected]) is an award-winning news and sports journalist from Sturgeon Bay. He is also a University of Wisconsin alumnus.