Fallout from Francisco fiasco
The resignation Friday of Marketwatch columnist Bambi Francisco amid allegations that she used her column to promote a company she was building on the site led to a lot of coverage on Saturday’s papers.
Damon Darlin of the New York Times wrote, “Ms. Francisco said she expected Dow Jones to issue a news release saying that she did not violate the companyâ€™s code of conduct rules and that she used sound judgment.
“But in a statement released yesterday evening, L. Gordon Crovitz, executive vice president of the parent company, said nothing that would either clear or incriminate Ms. Francisco.
â€œ’Dow Jones demands the highest journalism standards at our own publications and services, as reflected by our strict code of conduct. Our MarketWatch reporter Bambi Francisco started Vator.tv on her own time with our approval, under certain guidelines on permitted areas of coverage. Bambi has decided to pursue her enterprise full time,’ the statement said.
“A spokeswoman for Dow Jones said that Mr. Callaway would remain as editor of MarketWatch.”
Mark Boslet of the San Jose Mercury News wrote, “Experts say it is not surprising to see conflicts of interest surface in the chaotic online world. ‘It’s another reminder that journalists need to be just journalists,’ said Jerry Ceppos, a former executive editor of the Mercury News and a fellow at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. ‘I’m afraid you can’t be a journalist and a business person.’
“But the blogosphere is adding new complexity to relationships that seemed clear cut in the pre-Internet age. Its open, unconstrained character is among its assets and can’t be corralled, say many online observers.
“‘The blogosphere has a relatively unregulated context and I think that is a good thing,’ said Fred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. ‘Readers have to become critical consumers of information.'”
And Jonathan Berr wrote on BloggingStocks.com, “That agreement that was doomed to fail since Vator.TV interviewed tech executives and Francisco did the same thing for MarketWatch. Her bosses should have realized that arrangement wasn’t working before other news agencies pointed that out to them.
“Even though several hours before filing her final column, Francisco told the tech news service that she did nothing wrong, her departure was unavoidable. Advertisers won’t pay top rates to advertise with news organizations whose credibility is in question.
“Dow Jones deserves some credit for not sweeping this matter under the rug the way that CNBC did with the Maria Bartiromo episode.”