Thursday, June 26, 2008

Objectivity watch

Yesterday the Friedman Foundation, OCPA, and eight other organizations released a public opinion survey which indicates that Oklahomans would like to have more school choices. As is customary, we also distributed a press release to media outlets throughout the state. This resulted in a fair amount of media coverage (see, for example, this Associated Press report).

However, at least one journalist -- someone from the Dewey County Record, a weekly newspaper in Seiling published by Mack Miller -- took issue with our press release. This journalist, though he or she couldn't find the time to affix his or her name to the e-mail, did take the time to e-mail OCPA with one of the following messages (I'll let you guess which one):

(a) "Thanks for sending this press release. I want to do a story, but I am skeptical of the survey's methodology and would like to arrange an interview with you in order to explore some of my questions."

(b) "This is bulls**t!"

If you guessed (b), you are correct. Now, my graduate J-school program was many moons ago, but I seem to recall that this type of epistolary missive could be considered violative of the journalistic Code of Ethics. One would hope that the newspaper's publisher, who himself is very involved with (and even chairs a committee of) the Oklahoma Press Association, would seek to discover which journalist on his staff sent this e-mail so he could rectify the situation.

Journalists tend to be pretty sensitive about being considered "professionals," sorta like doctors or lawyers. This kind of behavior doesn't exactly help their cause.

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