Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Brown County: Has News Democrat Publisher Failed to Disclose Political Conflict of Interest?

Meet Steve Triplett.

Steve is the publisher of the News Democrat. He has been for a number of years. I have met him a few times and we talk socially. We even took some classes his paper sponsored on the Constitution. Steve seems to be a really nice guy. However, I believe I have uncovered a blatant conflict of interest that even the owners of the paper may not know about, and maybe not a lot of people in Brown County know about. Steve Triplett's paper endorsed David Krikorian when he ran against Jean Schmidt. At no time, to my knowledge, did he ever disclose that he had a blood relative who not only worked for Krikorian, but who is a Democrat party operative.

Meet Zach Triplett.

In this picture, Zach is standing next to Brown County Democrat Party Chairman, Dallas Hurt, at last year's Christmas party. No big deal, you might say, except that in the caption it says that young Mr. Triplett, the son of the publisher of the News Democrat, is listed as the vice president of the Brown County Democrat Club. Now, to my knowledge, Steve Triplett has never disclosed this when discussing endorsements or political stories he covers. I think, in the sake of journalistic ethics, this should have been done. Oh, but wait, I forgot about the Krikorian thing.....

This is a screen capture from Zach Triplett's facebook page. It is publicly available. Wow, we both went to NKU, like Batman and Kevin Smith. But what is salient to this post is the employment at Parody Productions. Parody Productions is a company owned by David Krikorian. Steve Triplett never disclosed that his son worked for David Krikorian, to my knowledge. Doesn't this cast doubt on the objectivity of the News Democrat, that the publisher, who endorsed a candidate, has a son who works for the candidate? Or, that in covering stories, say like the whole Brown County Board of Elections stuff, that the publisher's son is an operative of the Brown County Democrat Club? Sounds like a blatant conflict of interest and lack of objectivity....

Of course, you might say, so what? It isn't like young Zach knew Mr. Krikorian personally....well, they did talk about Mr. Krikorian coming to Brown County on facebook. From David Krikorian's own wall:

Now, I don't read every edition of the News Democrat. I do read the Sunday editions. In my reading, never once have I seen Steve Triplett acknowledge or disclose that he has this conflict of interest. I wonder if the owners of the paper know Mr. Triplett is not being objective in his reporting? I wonder if they know his coverage of political events is tainted by his failure to disclose?

If I were the readers, advertisers, and owners of the News Democrat, I think I would like to know about the possibility of bias and/or a conflict of interest on the part of the publisher, you know, the guy who makes all the ultimate decisions about what goes in the paper, along with the editor? I would think this could impact how I view political coverage that comes from the paper. I wonder why the big secret? Or is it a case of hiding in plain sight? I, for one, will look at all of the stories coming out of the News Democrat with a different set of eyes. This type of failure to disclose just isn't right. I mean, who knows, maybe Dallas Hurt is using his relationship with the son to filter info to the dad? Maybe this is why the slant in the paper lately has been so blatantly democrat?