Subj: Pt. 2 - FEC files, Kerry, reporters
Date: 7/15/2004 7:23:36 PM Central Daylight Time
July 15, 2004
[Part 1 of 2]
American reporters are supposed to be impartial and nonpartisan, above the fray of politics and campaigns.
Pates, William G Mr.
San Francisco, CA 94133
San Francisco Chronicle/Editor -[Contribution]
JOHN KERRY FOR PRESIDENT INC
Political gifts earn Bay Area journalists praise, punishment
Chronicle puts letters editor on leave for nearly $1,000 in contributions
By Michael Stoll
Grade the News
Posted July 20, 2004
In some Bay Area newsrooms, a journalist who writes a check for a political candidate may get a pat on the back for being an active citizen. In others, the journalist may be reprimanded for creating a perception that the news is biased.
The San Francisco Chronicle put its letters editor on paid leave last week after Grade the News inquired about his political contributions to candidates for local and national offices. Responding to a similar inquiry, the news director at KGO-TV Channel 7 said journalists have an absolute right to express themselves politically, including financially supporting the candidates and causes of their choice.
Chronicle editor put on leave
Federal and city records show that the Chronicle's letters editor, William G. Pates, gave $200 to John Kerry's presidential campaign on two separate occasions this year, and has donated hundreds more to three local Democrats as far back as 2000, for a total of nearly $1,000. The Chronicle has a policy prohibiting journalists from giving money to campaigns without consulting top editors.
John Diaz, the paper's editorial page editor, said Mr. Pates had never informed him of his political activity, which Mr. Diaz said if true would create the appearance of a conflict of interest -- an opinion gatekeeper with demonstrated partisan allegiances. That, he said, would compromise the paper's credibility with its readers. "The Chronicle policy is very clear that this would be out of bounds," Mr. Diaz said.