Monday, June 18, 2012

Brown County: News Democrat Publisher Tries to Play "Aw Shucks" Card on Conflict of Interest

Steve Triplett publishes the News Democrat in Brown County.

His son is the Vice President of the Brown County Democrat Club.

His son worked/works for EPIC FAIL Democrat Congressional Candidate David Krikorian.

To my knowledge, Steve Triplett, in his extensive coverage of the 2006, 2008, 2010 elections NEVER ONCE disclosed these facts about his son in his editorials, his endorsements of Krikorian, or in covering political events himself or through his reporters. This is a violation of the trust he has from his readers who expect openness and integrity from a newspaper. I posted about this conflict of interest and lack of journalistic ethics last week. In the Mr. Triplett tries to play the "aw shucks" card. In his editorial in the Sunday, June 17th edition discussing politics, he says, "all my Republican friends know I am a Democrat."

It is not your Republican friends we are talking about Mr. Triplett. It is your readers. Now, Mr. Triplett, who frequently bemoans modern society and innovation in his columns, will probably say 'EVERYBODY IN BROWN COUNTY KNOWS I'M A DEMOCRAT'. Well, that may not be true. What about new readers, or people who just moved in? What about internet readers who aren't familiar with the area? Mr. Triplett is not giving his readers online or in the paper the full truth.

I mean, go back and look at the extensive coverage Mr. Triplett gave every Krikorian appearance in 2008 and since. Could it be because his son was working for Krikorian? Or what about when, against all logic, the ND endorsed David Krikorian? Wouldn't it have helped the reader determine the value of the endorsement if Mr. Triplett had disclosed his son worked for Mr. Krikorian? What about coverage of Democrat events or political controversy? Wouldn't the reader benefit from knowing that Mr. Triplett's son was a democrat party operative and this would help them make informed decisions about the coverage of the paper?

If I were the owners of the paper, I would demand that Mr. Triplett engage in full disclosure, as well as recuse himself from covering politics. It just isn't fair.

If I were the readers of the News Democrat, I would take every political story with a HUGE grain of salt. Who knows how Mr. Triplett's relationships are coloring his coverage, especially when I have heard of reporters telling Republicans being smeared in the ND that, 'well, I know this is old stuff and not news, but my boss (Triplett) is making me cover and write about it'?

Sad and weak, Mr. Triplett. Playing the "aw shucks, everybody knows already" card is dishonest, insulting, and lacks integrity.