Journalists from mainstream media outlets are often harangued for showing some form of “bias” or conflict of interest in their reporting or writing. Accusations of bias appear often in the aftermath of political reporting, though such charges are often levied just as readily at sports and general news stories (supporters of sports teams in the Western U.S. love to claim that reporters across the country participate in an “East Coast Media Bias” that does injustice to their favorite teams).
In most cases, “bias” depends primarily on the perspective of the accuser and is often misguided or misinterpreted. Stories can be innocently edited to remove important details long after a reporter finishes writing, and incorrect facts or quotes may appear by accident rather than malice. Journalists are also asked to disassociate themselves from any personal beliefs or opinions, which is often harder said than done; as much as reporters and editors may try to be unbiased, it is important to remember that they are all (mostly) human beings who have their own inherent perspectives that can be hard to separate consciously.
But sometimes, bias and conflict of interest does occur. Occasionally, conflicts are easy to uncover and impossible to ignore — as the Colorado Springs Independent notes about the Colorado Springs Gazette and editor Wayne Laugesen:
On Sunday and Tuesday, July 17 and 19, the Gazette again editorialized in support of Darryl Glenn, county commissioner and GOP nominee for U.S. Senate. The editorial was signed by the Gazette editorial board, of which Wayne Laugesen, the editorial page editor, is a member. But it failed to disclose Laugesen’s wife, Dede Laugesen, owns Windhover Media, which was paid $3,147 in consulting fees and expenses by Glenn’s campaign in January 2015.
We asked Wayne Laugesen to comment but didn’t hear back by our press time.
Media Matters has more details on this pretty blatant conflict of interest at the Gazette, with numerous examples of the Gazette praising El Paso County Commissioner and Republican Senate candidate Darryl Glenn without disclosing this conflict.
You may argue whether or not Gazette editor Wayne Laugesen should be signing off on editorials that offer such praise of a candidate who has paid his wife, Dede Laugesen, for consulting work. But at the very least, the Gazette should run some sort of disclosure along with any editorial that prominently features Glenn’s name.