Asheville, N.C. Reporter Was Scheduled to Speak at MoveOn.org Health Care Rally
Blogger Jane Q. Republican has been reporting over at the blog for the Asheville, North Carolina, TEA Party about a local newspaper reporter who was slated to appear last Thursday evening at a local MoveOn.org rally pushing for ObamaCare.
The reporter, Leslie Boyd of the Gannett-owned Asheville Citizen-Times, ended up cancelling her scheduled appearance at the July 23 rally in front of Rep. Heath Shuler's (D-N.C.) district offices, but as Jane Q. notes, Boyd's plan to attend the rally as a participant violated specific provisions of the Gannett chain's code of conduct for journalists:
From their own website, the Gannett Ethics policy states:
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
A “conflict of interest” exists when a person’s private interest interferes in any way with the interests of the Company. A conflict situation can arise when a director, officer or employee takes actions or has interests that may make it difficult to perform his or her Company work objectively and effectively. Conflicts of interest also arise when a director, officer or employee, or members of his or her family, receives improper personal benefits as a result of his or her position with the Company.
Appearance of Impropriety: Directors, officers and employees should take care to avoid any appearance of impropriety and will disclose to their supervisors or, in the case of directors and executive officers, to the Board of Directors, any material transaction or relationship that reasonably could be expected to give rise to a conflict of interest.
Influence: An impartial, arms’ length relationship will be maintained with anyone seeking to influence the news.
Outside Interests: Directors, officers and employees will not have any outside interest, investment or business relationship that dilutes their loyalty to the Company or dedication to the principle of a free and impartial press.
Aside from writing for the Asheville Citizen-Times, Ms. Boyd maintains a blog at WNCMom.com where her most recent entry, dated July 10, carries a lament about the state of the newspaper industry after noting she survived the paper's recent round of pink slips (emphasis mine):
Things here have been pretty bleak. We had layoffs yesterday. Rob and I escaped, but we had friends who worked here a long time who got cut. I feel like I'm watching the demise of an entire industry.
But it's more than just an industry, and being a reporter is more than just a job. We felt like we had a higher calling: to be watchdogs of government and big business, to dig out the truth and to inform the public. We have been the children of the First Amendment.
Now most papers have too few people in the newsroom to do any investigative reporting. We can report on government meetings, but we can't dig any deeper. We can write about the new office building being put up, but not on the dealings that helped it get permits in spite of height restrictions or zoning laws.
In the end, government and big business will be able to do what they want, unfettered by the press looking over them. Actually, they pretty much do already.
Update: Boyd has a blog entry from June 27, 2009 entitled "A good day for health care advocacy in Asheville," noting that she was the keynote speaker for a health care rally (emphasis mine):
WNC for Change had a health care rally in Asheville this morning and 300 people came out. That's almost twice as many as came out last fall. People are getting worried that this won't get fixed after all, and they want to tell Congress that's not acceptable.
I was the keynote speaker, telling Mike's story and noting that he was one of about 30,000 who died last year.
Rep. Heath Shuler met with about 50 of us this afternoon and assured us he wants to fix it too, but the law says it has to be defecit neutral. I can think of a few ways to raise the money, but none of them will happen because corporations are more important than people in America.
I'm not sure how we'll take it back, but I'm working on it.
If you want to see photos of the rally and of Heath Shuler, visit here: