Chron editorialist gets early start on endorsements

The Harris County Clerk's website has new campaign finance filings posted (which we like!).

David Mincberg's latest report (PDF download) is interesting. If a person clicks onto page 18, the name Andrea Georgsson turns up. Georgsson gave Mr. Mincberg $250.

Georgsson lists her occupation as "writer" for none other than the Houston Chronicle.

That's not untrue, but more specifically, she is on the editorial board for the newspaper (readers may recall she is a passionate advocate for abortion and leftover adoption).

Presumably, she will participate in the editorial board's interviews of both candidates for Harris County Judge, and will help determine the editorial board's endorsement. It is thought that she writes many of the editorials on county affairs for the board, although it is impossible to know with certainty since they are unsigned.

Do you think Georgsson will recuse herself from the process, since she already is openly supporting a candidate? Do you think she'll let the candidates and her fellow editorial board members know of her donation (err, we guess we pre-empted her)? Do you think the Chronicle should allow its editorial board members to support candidates in partisan elections, even though editorial board members are charged with screening those candidates for the public?

It doesn't seem like a very good idea to me, and many news organizations have rules against such behavior. This afternoon, I emailed old reader rep Steve Jetton and new reader rep Jim Newkirk about this discovery, and asked about the Chronicle policy and how it intended to proceed with the screening/endorsement process for Harris County Judge. This evening, Jetton emailed that "We're looking into the situation."

One should hope so. The question is, what will the newspaper DO about the situation.

Incidentally, Georgsson also gave $250 to Barack Obama's campaign a few months ago.

UPDATE (10/12/08): Rorschach notes another possible ethical lapse by Georgsson. The Chronicle editorial board's credibility is really suffering. Perhaps one day soon the reader rep(s) will be done "looking into the situation" and the newspaper will announce some plan to deal with the problem.

UPDATE (10/13/08): The Chronicle reader representative(s) continue to ignore repeated email followups from me asking what steps are being taken to restore integrity to their candidate endorsement process. It is a bizarre thing for a newspaper to have a reader representative charged with interacting with readers and for said reader representative to refuse to answer substantive questions about the newspaper.

UPDATE (10/14/08): The Chronicle's Steve Jetton finally answered repeated email queries with this non-substantive response:

A Chronicle editorial writer made political campaign contributions that she regrets. We’ve dealt with it internally and appreciate your concern.

I KNOW she made contributions, as we pointed out. Apparently, the Chronicle has gone into the bunker, and doesn't intend to tell readers what it has done to try to restore its credibility.

Therefore, we can only conclude that readers should ignore the Chronicle's unethical and deceptive editorial board on any musings it might offer on candidates or county politics, since it is impossible to regard the board as a fair, uninvolved commentator on such matters.

BLOGVERSATION: Unca Darrell (and more), Brazosport News, Red Ink: Texas, Lose an Eye, It's a Sport, Lone Star Times (and more), Hair Balls.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/07/08 09:50 PM | Print |

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