Friday, September 22, 2006

Covering his own story, conflict? - UPDATED

Today's Herald features a story by Oscar Corral where he covers the fallout from a story by Oscar Corral. In the story Corral details parts of an interview with Radio/TV Marti Director Pedro Roig who says that a debate should be had regarding journalist participation in government-funded media such as VOA and Radio Marti.

Roig defends Radio/TV Marti's autonomy:

In defending the payments to journalists, Roig cited a strict ''firewall'' that exists between Radio and TV Martí and the policies of any president.

''We are totally independent of the tenant of the White House,'' he said. "When contributors come, we've never told them what they have to do or say.''
Roig also discards the comparison to the case of Armstrong Williams:
Roig disagreed with comparisons initially drawn by some journalism ethics experts -- Kelly McBride, Ethics Group Leader at the Poynter Institute, and Jay Black, editor of Mass Media Ethics -- to the case of journalist Armstrong Williams.

In the Williams affair, the U.S. Education Department, through the Ketchum Public Relations Firm, paid Williams $240,000 to talk about the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind Act during his nationally syndicated television show.

Williams' contract with the government, USA Today reported, required Williams "to regularly comment on the NCLB during the course of his broadcasts.''

An example of a contract between a newspaper journalist also moonlighting for Radio Martí requires that he "provide services in support of Radio News . . . for combination services: original writing; voicing; and researching topics to be discussed.''
This report from Oscar Corral is much more balanced and well-researched than the original article. Perhaps a reflection of the fact that nobody was out to scoop the Herald in this case. As I have maintained here and on other blogs the Herald's failure was in not properly investigating and framing the story. The rush to get it out there led to shoddy reporting an a series of embarrassing revelations about the paper.

UPDATE: A slightly different version of the story by Gerardo Reyes appeared in El Nuevo Herald today. The Reyes/El Nuevo Herald version mentions the column by Carlos Alberto Montaner, in which he defends the journalists in question, that appeared in yesterday's WSJ as reported here while the Corral/Herald version does not.

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