Thursday, November 15, 2007

E.W. Scripps Reporter Violates E.W. Scripps Ethics Policy Today

Today during lunch the Knox County Commission and Knox County School Board meet with Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale and they all participated in a round table discussion concerning the Schools Capital Plan. I will post a complete recap later. The members of the media present were Tamara Sheperd of the Knoxville - Knox County Focus, all three television stations (WVLT, WBIR and WATE) three E.W. Scripps reporters Lola Alapo of News-Sentinel, Sandra Clark of Shopper News (arriving 35 minutes late) and Joe Sullivan of the Metro Pulse. I attended as a blogger.

All members of the media did not eat the lunch with the exception of one E.W. Scripps reporter. Joe Sullivan of the E.W. Scripps owned Metro Pulse devoured the lunch. The E.W. Scripps owned News Sentinel Editorial Code of Conduct states, "We should refuse any gifts, special treatment or any other thing of more than token value given in the course of professional activities. This includes ... free meals. The general rule should be if the gift is, or may be, offered even partly because the recipient works for a newspaper, it should not be accepted."

This week E.W. Scripps owned Metro Pulse printed a reference to their signing of the E.W. Scripps code. It stated. Just last week, MP employees signed the companywide Code of Ethics document for E.W. Scripps Co., which owns the News Sentinel and whose subsidiary bought Metro Pulse earlier this year. That code appears to say only that business gifts, such as meals, valued at $100 or more should not be accepted by us. OK, we won’t, but it’s still hard to enforce hard-and-fast rules that are subject to interpretation by people who maintain their own personal sense of ethics. The Scripps code tells us we mustn’t take bribes or kickbacks, either. Did we really have to be told that? If so, we should be in another line of work, and so should government employees who use government credit cards for personal expenses.

Evidently E.W. Scripps is inconsistent in their Code of Ethics. No food for News-Sentinel any food under $100 for the tabloid. However, Joe Sullivan was listed in the critical report earlier this week and all in attendance witnessed another violation today.

For the record Brian's Blog has a policy of refusing meals at public events that would jeopardize the coverage of Brian's Blog at said event. I did not eat the lunch that was provided in hopes that the 6 or 7 meals left over would be given to those less fortunate.

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