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Should we publicly express who we are voting for?

by on October 31, 2016

After reviewing this past weeks class discussion on conflict of interest, I have come to realize that as a journalist I can’t do anything without it being considered a conflict of interest. There are many things you must consider as a journalist before you do them because it can be misinterpreted by many which can in turn jeopardize your credibility.  For example during class we talked about accepting a free lunch or coffee. Personally I am covering an event and they happen to be serving food, I will take some. I really do not see the problem here and how it would be considered a conflict of interest. I look at it like this, why turn down free food? If I am hungry than I’ll go for it and still cover the event without letting the food get in the way of how I cover the story.

Another topic we really looked at was donating money to a campaign or having a campaign sticker on your car. While hearing the other opinions of my classmates. It is one of those things that does not really have a solid answer. Besides being a journalist I am a citizen and my duty is to go out and vote. With that being said I have to have a preference for who I am voting for; however, with being a journalist I cannot have a bias.  So it makes the situation complicated. When reading the article Olbermann of MSNBC Suspended Over Donations it shows how some news outlets do not want their journalists to be involved in any sort of political campaigning. The articled started with the following statement “Keith Olbermann, the leading liberal voice on American television in the age of Obama, was suspended Friday after his employer, MSNBC, discovered he made campaign contributions to three Democrats last month.” After reading just the first statement I found it ridiculous that MSNBC would go as far as to suspend Keith Olbermann because he was donating money. But when I continued reading it was revealed that the employees of MSNBC and NBC News as well as many other journalistic outlets do not allow their employees to contribute to any sort of political campaigns.

I thought this was interesting because I do think it is fair for the news outlets to prohibit contributions so that journalists do not influence the public on who to vote for. Do you guys think it is best for journalism outlets to have these certain regulations to prohibit any sort of conflict of interest in terms of political reporting? Or should we be able to talk about where we stand politically?

Personally I think donations should not be accepted just because it can sway the readers into one direction without really understanding both sides. Being able to express which side you are on should be accepted just not while on the job. What I am trying to say here is that journalists should obviously have a stance on who they want to vote for but should not publically state it just because they can influence the readers to vote for someone they probably do not support but are doing it just because a journalists said so.  I think it should be acceptable for journalists to be able to express which side they are voting for and why but should not publically acknowledge it.

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3 Comments
  1. I agree in most respects to this post. I do not think that who I am voting for should be considered such harmful information. However, I see why it is. Though in a better-functioning version of our society, an electorate would be informed well enough to discount things they hear and do not agree with, with facts and philosophy supporting their own opinions, that is in my humble opinion, not the case. In truth I believe journalists are inherently far more learned in politics, economics, and foreign policy (at least so far as current issues are considered) because it is in fact our job (if we are doing it correctly) to know exactly what it is we are reporting on. Furthermore, were the electorate better equipped to make political alliances with parties and their candidates based on formal education in political, social, and economic theory, journalists opinions would be viable as of equal value, but would not be heeded as potentially more authoritative voices. Thus I would not reveal who I am voting for, though this is simply my choice, and would not extend further so as to say that other journalists should do the same. After all, I do agree with the writer of this who states that nearly everything we come across as journalists can be perceived as a conflict of interest, and thus everyone must define journalism as a practice in their own way.

  2. I was surprised to learn in class that there are some journalists that don’t vote at all. I think journalists are entitled to their own private political beliefs and can certainly vote for whoever they’d like. Publicly announcing those political beliefs is a different issue. I think it would be wrong for a reporter to put a political bumper sticker on their car. Displaying this preference would be inappropriate, plus, as a journalist why would you want to risk alienating your sources? People from one side of the issue might not want to talk to a reporter who prominently shows support for the other side. When it comes to the Olbermann campaign contribution case, I do think that MSNBC made the right decision. Journalists donating to political campaigns could become really problematic if it becomes widespread. In addition to this being a conflict of interest, worst-case scenario, I could picture political sources preferring to talk to journalists who make contributions to their campaigns. Although the suspension certainly is harsh punishment, I think the rule barring campaign contributions is a good one and should be upheld.

  3. On one hand, I believe that any and all conflicts of interest should be avoided; but, on the other, I think journalists should reveal there political affiliations. To start, I should make it clear that all journalists have the right to do whatever or think however they want in their own private lives.

    Journalists should not be permitted to donate to any campaign because it may jeopardize the integrity of the reporting, or influence readers like you said. Journalist do not have to say “I am voting for X or Y,” but if they give readers insight into “where they’re coming from” it has the ability to avoid accusations of bias. In other words, reporters should inform readers either before or after the article about they’re typical political leaning. If the article is bolstered by good facts and sources, then most readers will have little problem with the fact that it came from either a conservative or liberal. Political bumper stickers should be avoided because, as stated above, you risk alienating you’re sources.

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