Former San Antonio Express-News Editor Robert Rivard wrote a dozen articles on his independent news site about CPS Energy or its CEO, Doyle Beneby, Nolan Hicks writes in the Express-News. None disclosed that CPS employed Rivard to consult on its communications strategy. The energy company later hired Rivard’s wife, Monika Maeckle, as its director of integrated communications, and his friend Tracy Hamilton as its “Chief Blogging Officer.”
The firm paid Rivard’s Arsenal Group more than $41,000, according to records Hicks obtained.
The articles were published on the Rivard Report, which Rivard and his Maeckle launched in 2012 after he left the paper in 2011. The Rivard Report “added disclosure statements to many of the stories it published about CPS after the Express-News made inquiries,” Hicks writes.
Rivard noted other conflicts in Rivard Report articles, Hicks writes. When he asked Rivard why he didn’t disclose his ties to CPS, Rivard said, “I missed it … You can indict me on that one.”
In a recent column, Rivard wrote that “reporters write first and foremost for their peers.”
What others in the newsroom think of their work is paramount, and writing positively about someone or something risks snickers that you’re soft. Ironically, the same newsrooms that produce such bulldog reporters are also stocked with journalists who are incredibly thin-skinned when their own work or motives are challenged.
He also says: “Long before I left the Express-News there were those in the building who thought I was too close to some of this city’s leaders.”