Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Barone, unable to stay on-topic

Republished in the Spokesman-Review, Michael Barone's latest barrage that purports to argue why we need school vouchers to suddenly flailing away at everything else. It is loosely titled, Unions' gain is children's loss. Isn't it always lovely when children can be used as a political battering ram against anyone you disagree with, an institution you no longer like, people who form unions, parents, certain types of holiday traditions inclusive of Santa Claus, education? By exploiting children, Barone hopes to get an emotive response to why the taxpayers should fork over vouchers for private and in particular religious education. Because it competes with public education and the teachers' unions. Wow.

So to keep on topic, 60 Minutes aired an item last Sunday about what parents who coddle kids have basically done to change future employers hiring habits. Not only does it make the workplace party central, it also makes the office the new playground for the 20 somethings. Home schooling, tax vouchers for private and religious education are all part of the parents coddling their youngsters and ruining them for the rigors of life. Now why should I put out tax dollars toward a system--public education, private education--that ends up creating immature grownups who have never heard the word, "no" and how dare you (to the teachers and school principals) tell my Susie that she only got a "C" on her geography paper. How will taxpayer funded school vouchers change how parents are raising their kids? How will attacking the teachers' unions change the parents' attitude about how to raise their kids?

Barone was republished in the Spokesman-Review and can be read weekly at the U.S. News & World Report.

Huckleberries on-line posted a Steven Smith whine about a former employee, a reporter who went to work (I assume fairly recently) for the Inland Northwest Inlander. Smith's whine involved the fact that his former employee was assigned to write about the Spokesman-Review in an article titled "Leaning Tower" for the Inlander. In brief, Smith deemed it an "undisclosed conflict of interest" for a former employee of the S-R to now be writing about the S-R in another publication.

Conflict of interest legal definition: That applies to court cases where jurors (example) may personally know the parties involved and therefore would be excused from the panel for obvious bias. Because the judge had a prior history of a ruling or close association with one of the parties and is therefore recused. In the case of Jones v Clinton, Ken Starr's law firm had advised Jones on how to handle her sexual harassment suit against Clinton. Ken Starr having a past association with the plaintiff was also allowed to investigate the plaintiff's case (that ultimately was dismissed in the federal court) as a special prosecutor. The entire impeachment debacle was allowed to go forward on a highly egregious conflict of interest (Source: Steven Brill--Brill's Content).

Conflict of interest ethical definition: Steve Brill had a useful one for the need of full disclosure in the news media. If a magazine or newspaper covering a particular industry also allows a member of that industry to write a column (without disclosing the fact the individual works for the industry covered by the magazine or other publication) for the industry covered, becomes an ethical breach on the legal foundations of conflict of interest. Essentially, the newspaper or magazine is paying for content on what amounts to an insider's knowledge, the insider gets to provide an advertisement for the company he or she works for in the form of an article or editorial, and basically gets put in more than one job position. Both for the company, and the magazine or newspaper reporting on the company. Full disclosure, from Brill's standpoint, was that the industry flack fully disclose who his or her original boss is.

Smith would have more of a case to make about conflicts of interest if he had retained Taylor, Taylor also freelanced at the Inlander, and then got assigned to write about the Spokesman-Review as an Inlander reporter.

For being an editor of a newspaper, Smith needs to bone up on what conflicts of interest are and not merely what is in his opinion...

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