I can see both sides of this conflict, which is rarely spelt out so plainly.

Honolulu mayoral candidate tries to get Civil Beat reporter thrown off campaign

by Andrew Beaujon
Published Feb. 17, 2012 11:38 am Poynter Institute

Former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano is running for mayor in Honolulu. And he does not like what Honolulu Civil Beat’s been writing about him.

“There is no point in talking to a reporter who accuses me of lacking in ‘believability,’” Cayetano writes to Civil Beat editor John Temple. Of City Beat reporter Michael Levine, Cayetano says, “I will not answer his questions, his phone calls or emails.”

“If Civil Beat wants my opinion on issues — send another of its reporters,” Cayetano writes.

One problem with the former governor’s media criticism: Levine didn’t write the piece Cayetano felt impugned him. Temple did.

“People in public life do not get to choose who covers them,” Temple writes.

I know from personal experience that some news media organizations cave in to political pressure far more subtle than that expressed by former Governor Cayetano. Indeed, some anticipate such objections from ‘newsmakers’. Like an approval-seeking poodle, they cravenly act to stifle coverage which, they apparently believe, may, possibly, be open to imagined criticism from those covered (or their media minders). Such shadow boxing eviscerates journalistic integrity, in my view. Say what you like.

I know that some newsroom directors and their management masters feel that opinions about politicians’ believability expressed by journalists outside the organization’s legitimate realm (i.e. outside the news ‘product’ of their newsroom, e.g. personal social media use or blogs) are a matter for a policy of control (and censorship?) by them.

This “I will not answer his questions” boycott threat is rare, and short-lived in my experience. A partisan, inaccurate or unfair journalist or reporter, as we have discussed many times here, is not doing his or her job. Their duty to their readers — and their subjects — is to be truthful and accurate in their reporting, not necessarily in their opinion about a politician’s trustworthiness.

Governor Cayetano’s complaint runs pretty close to “I don’t like that reporter”. Tough. Professional journalists observe a code of ethics. Pretend-journalists, like partisan attack bloggers, aren’t troubled by such niceties.

The View from Nowhere’ fake neutrality’s spell is losing its power — rightly.

– P

See my earlier post: Do your opinions invalidate your reporting?