A word from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on political giving by journalists. Via Combest. I don’t understand how working reporters – certainly at least those who cover politics and related subjects – for mainstream news outlets would make campaign contributions. It’s one thing for someone doing commentary, or who does not claim to be a purely objective journalist, or who works for a publication which openly embraces a particular philosophical orientation. In fact, I’ve given money to candidates, and I’ve written for several different publications. I’ve also never claimed to be a professional, purely objective reporter working for a neutral news source.
I wouldn’t be surprised if some journalists don’t realize that their names and contributions become part of the public record. They aren’t the only ones. I’ve heard at least a couple stories of high profile individuals (including a top MU official, and a major church leader in the KC area) making a campaign contribution only to realize after the fact – upon being confronted – that the support they offered would not be kept secret but rather open for all to see. Personally, I think it’s wise for practicing, professional journalists, especially those covering government, to avoid making such contributions. It has even been asked be media ethicists whether journalists should vote. I think that’s going a bit far, but I can see the impulse to refrain from casting a ballot.