Wednesday, June 24, 2009

One Question that the Journal Sentinel Must Answer

There has been much discussion about the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's report regarding the affair between UW-Milwaukee Journalism instructor, Jessica McBride and Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn. The day that the story appeared on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's front page I even heard a sports program talking at length about the subject. Thus far I have not addressed it at all on my blog. Although I don't care about what other people do behind closed doors, in this case I think that the Journal Sentinel was justified in reporting the story. It involves a prominent public official and a well known reporter/commentator who also happens to teach journalism at a public university. I think that it is nearly impossible to deny that there are very legitimate ethical questions that should be asked regardless of the exact timeline of events. So I think on several levels this story was a legitimate one to print.

The fact that I think that the MJS was justified in running the story does not mean that I agree with the way that they handled it and with every word that they have and have not printed about it. In fact, based on Michael Mathias blog at Pundit Nation, I think that there is still at least one important question that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel must still answer. Michael blogged Tuesday about a list of questions that he sent to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel managing editor George Stanley and he gave some of Stanley's responses to them. One of Stanley's responses stuck out to me and I think it calls for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to answer at least one more important question regarding this entire issue. If the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says that this was a print worthy story, then why didn't some of these same MJS people report on a similar incident with McBride while she was still working for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel?

While reporting about this current scandal, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel disclosed that when McBride was working for them as a reporter that they had to move her assignment when they found out that she was dating then-Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher. They obviously couldn't allow her to continue reporting on Bucher once they found out that she was dating him. But given their defense of their current reporting, why didn't they report this incident? How was it any different other than it would have made them look bad instead of their competitor Milwaukee Magazine? It appears that they discovered that she was dating Bucher while she was also responsible for reporting on him. He was a prominent law enforcement official and appeared to still be married to his previous wife at the time (based on the date of the divorce filing). So what exactly is the difference between this incident, which the MJS didn't say a peep about and the one that they promoted to the front page last week? Although there are many other legitimate questions being raised right now, this is one that George Stanley and the other officials at MJS must answer.

No comments: