Wisconsin editor reminds readers why journalists don’t sign petitions after dozens did

Wisconsin State Journal editor John Smalley explains why journalists don’t sign petitions after six of his staffers signed one to recall Governor Scott Walker from office:

“People accept work-related policies and restrictions all the time. If you want to sell high-end clothing, you can’t wear cut-off jeans to work. If you want to deliver Coca-Cola, you can’t drink Pepsi in your truck.

“And if you want to be a journalist, you keep your politics to yourself. That’s just the way it is, and it’s a deal every journalist accepts when he or she joins the profession.”

Well, not every journalist.
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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Hall/100003322010756 Kevin Hall

    Journalists are supposed to be objective, not neutral, as Smalley says. It’s a big distinction, in my view.

    Journalists who are neutral are worthless as watchdogs. Neutral reporters are he said/she said stenographers who have destroyed all of our credibility to little more than gossip rags.

    I often hear readers and listeners wonder aloud if journalists have a brain in their heads anymore. They don’t analyze the information, misinformation, lies and distortions.  They just swallow hook, line and sinker and try to represent it as fact merely because someone said so, not because they verified it to be true.

    Smalley hasn’t looked at this objectively, or even with neutrality. The law in Wisconsin prohibits interference with voting rights, and I read that Madison has a similar city law, too.  There is reasonable debate on both sides as to whether signing the binding petition that leads to a ballot vote is different or merely an unexcisable part of a voting process. Certainly, an objective editor would consider those factors in his published text. A neutral one, even, would have published both points of view equally, quoting a civil rights or labor lawyer, and wouldn’t have published only his own opinion as a conclusion.
    I’m shocked that no one on Smalley’s staff pointed out that a private vote on private time is not analogous in the least with an employer’s dress code while at work or a soda company not allowing a competitor’s product in its vehicle. Was there no little boy in the newsroom willing to say the emperor wears no clothes?