Selling out for the scoop

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The speed of news dissemination has reached such a fevered pitch that it isn’t just money or influence that can corrupt a journalist’s better judgment. Now, a simple scoop will do the trick.

The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post’s with United Airlines. According to FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY IN REPORTING (FAIR), the airline offered the three newspapers a scoop about its planned merger with US Airways, but only if the editors promised not to contact United’s competitors or consumer groups, even if only to lend balance and context to the story.

Washington Post financial editor Jill Dutt told FAIR that the deal was entirely defensible because getting a possibly one-sided story a day earlier was of more importance to readers than getting a balanced and accurate story a day later.

Dutt further said that she understood why the airline’s executives wanted to get their story out to “investors … before you get all the naysayers.” To that, FAIR editors wrote, “It should go without saying that it is not a newspaper’s role to facilitate companies’ corporate strategy, or to protect them from ‘naysayers.'” But some basics of good journalism go without saying for so long that editors like Dutt and her cohorts at the Times and Journal apparently forget them entirely.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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