Friday, April 27, 2007

An ethical dilemma

I like to read the business section of the newspaper. Coincidentally, I am interested in staying in bsiness with my new practice. One of the columnists that I read reglualy is Loren Steffy of the Houston Chronicle. Today, his column addresses a bank funding a column for another newspaper and how that leads to an obvious conflict of interest.

Of note, he addresses the newspaper industry's financial woes and points out that allowing a business to sponsor a column is a potential revenue stream. As the internet changes how information is disseminated, traditional purveyors of information (newspapers, the evening news shows) are finding it hard to keep people's attention (and revenue). So while Mr. Steffy is right to say that journalistic integrity is compromised by selling a column to a local bank, he fails to address the larger question:

How does a newspaper grow its business while maintaing its independence and integrity?

If a newspaper goes out of business, it probably won't maintain very high standards of journalism.

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