OLD Media Moves

Conflicts of interest and the business journalist

July 14, 2008

Becky Tallent, the ombudsman for the Spokane Spokesman-Review, writes about the paper’s natural resources and energy reporter, Becky Kramer, who was accused of owning vacation property in an area where she covers contentious environmental issues.

Spokesman-ReviewTallent checked the real estate records and could find no property owned by Kramer.

Tallent writes, “She said The Spokesman-Review’s code of ethics is clear about conflict of interest, and as a former business reporter, she is very careful about any perception that she might be biased in any fashion.

“‘No one in my immediate or extended family owns property in the Silver Valley or has financial interests there,’ Kramer said. ‘I’m single, so I don’t have a spouse or in-laws. Most of my family lives in the Portland/Vancouver area, where I grew up. My dad’s a retired professor. My siblings are teachers. We aren’t involved in any type of real estate development or mining activity.’

“There is a news staff member who does own a vacation home on Silver Mountain. Alison Boggs said when she was business editor she repeatedly excused herself from editing any articles involving the Silver Valley and she will not write a story that exclusively features the mountain or the community, because she owns property in the area.”

“‘When I was Becky’s editor, I referred those stories she wrote (about Silver Valley) to another editor because I do own a condo up there,’ Boggs said.

“Another rumor was that Kramer holds stock in several of the mining companies she covers. She referred back to her previous position as a business reporter. Kramer is the listed agent of record on three shares of stock (one share in three different companies) that are owned by the S-R’s news department.”

Read more here.

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