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.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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