When you’re too close to the story

Here’s an ethical dilemma for you. Your boyfriend leaves his wife and you have to cover the story for local TV news. How do you react?

“A hypothetical?” you ask.
“No a real case study,” I respond.

Here’s how it was covered by Bob Steele at the Poynter Institute (you can read the full account, plus links from here:

As the Times story recounts, “On June 8, Salinas opened Telemundo’s newscast with a report about Villaraigosa confirming that he and his wife were separating. ‘The rumors were true,’ Salinas said in Spanish. ‘Mayor Villaraigosa confirmed today that he is separating from his wife, Corina, after more than 20 years of marriage.'”

It’s important to note that the Daily News story quotes a Telemundo spokesman as saying Salinas “moved off the political beat, which includes coverage of the mayor, about 11 months ago.”

What’s not clear, of course, is when Salinas started her personal relationship with the mayor and whether it was going on while she was covering him as a journalist. If that was the case, there are serious concerns to be raised about her ethics and those of her station’s news managers if they were aware of the intersection of professional and personal connections.

“Ouch,” we’ve seen this before. It’s not what I’d call a healthy “life-work balance”.

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