From the Queens Chronicle:
Thomas Jefferson famously wrote of the “wall of separation” he said should exist between religion and politics in the fledgling America, and the idea has been one of the nation’s guiding principles ever since.
In journalism we have another wall of separation, the one between news and advertising, or a media company’s other revenue sources. Like the one between religion and government, that wall is at times stronger than others, but it’s always there if you’re serious about fair news coverage.
One of our competitors, the Queens Tribune, recently obliterated both walls at once with an unfair front-page story about Dan Halloran, the GOP candidate for the 19th City Council District. Halloran is a former Catholic who converted to a pagan religion, and the story focused on his beliefs. It made no mention of the beliefs of his opponent, Kevin Kim. Instead, the front page labeled Kim the “Democratic victor” and Halloran a “Pagan lord.”
To make matters worse, Kim is a client of the Tribune’s affiliate, Multi-Media Corp., which does political consulting and other services for candidates. The story was silent on the $80,000 Kim has paid the firm this year.
The Tribune story was a hit piece, journalism at its worst, and the financial tie between Kim and the paper makes it all the more unseemly. Many readers were rightly disgusted. We hope the Tribune takes a lesson from their anger and takes a more fair approach next time, and discloses in its articles any financial connection to the people it’s writing about. Queens deserves no less.