Tuesday, October 24, 2006

If A Paper Falls In a Major Media Market, Does It Make a Sound?

Should an editorial staff fill its own pages?

That's (almost) exactly what happened after the unionized workers at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News issued a radio spot that put new boss Brian Tierney in the hot seat.

The ad, officially by Local 10 if the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia, said Tierney and his "millionaire friends" want to "cut pensions, freeze wages and end seniority" at the two papers. It supposedly will run on local airwaves soon.

This bears the question: when a newspaper inadvertently becomes the news, who will cover it? What's more, can the paper suddenly shift from neutral society-watchers to an entity with a position?

Newspapers are businesses, of course, and we musn't forget that. They have every right to pursue their own interests, especially in the courts.

But in the own media sphere they operate in? That's a different question, I think.

Sure, neither paper has brought its drama to its own front page - that would just be negligent. And at the moment, the Philly papers are operating through the union's name. But is it right to take a position on an issue as the paper in a place other than its own editorial pages?

It's a fine ethical line.

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