By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Following the money

In light of yesterday’s Boston Globe screw-up, you should read this excellent article (PDF) by Morton Mintz from the current issue of Nieman Reports. Titled “Why Won’t Journalists Follow the Money?”, the article laments media laxity when it comes to identifying industry-funded special-interest groups as – well, as industry-funded special-interest groups.

You’ll note that the Globe’s Beth Daley gets a silver star.

In other developments, the online version of Michael Reitz’s column now begins with this:

Clarification: A column that appeared yesterday by Michael Reitz of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation that criticized the National Education Association’s boycott of Wal-Mart should have noted that the foundation has received grants from the Walton Family Foundation. Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart.

And the Globe today runs a letter (scroll down a bit) critical of Reitz’s column that was written by North Andover resident Bill Callahan, who is described as “a high school teacher and a member of the Brookline Educators’ Union, an affiliate of the National Education Association.”

Ah, full disclosure – it’s a beautiful thing.


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2 Comments

  1. Sven

    Mintz’s article is indeed excellent. Thanks for the link.I suspect part of the problem is that the think tanks make it so easy to get a few contrarian quotes on virtually any subject. Most of them bombard journalists as well as legislators with newsletters, provide slick web sites, and throw hundreds of professionally written op-eds over the transom every week. While there’s no doubt interests on the left do the same thing, they aren’t anywhere near as well organized or funded.I had a lengthy e-mail exchange with a science reporter, who admitted he called the Heartland Institute’s Joseph Bast (who, interestingly, used to edit a Sierra Club newsletter before discovering the think tank racket)due to deadline pressure:I’m aware of the Heartland Institute’s reactionary take on environmental and other issues. This is why I called them. I needed someone who would question global warming to add an opposing view point, however silly. If I’d had more time I could probably have found an intelligent bona fide expert who doubts climate change, or that it is caused by humans. This would have been difficult, however, because not many people still believe that. So you can chalk it up to deadline pressure and/or laziness.The reporter was aware that Heartland was funded by oil companies, but never answered why the financial ties weren’t laid out in the story.

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