This is becoming a recurring theme: journalists working in news rooms while also doing paid public relations work.
A Minneapolis-St. Paul TV anchor did it.
A Nashville TV reporter did it. (Although she called me yesterday to explain that she’s not doing it anymore.)
And now Detroit Medical Center announced that it has named a former WDIV-TV anchorman to be its communication director, “providing guidance on media issues and serving as a principal spokesperson” for the medical center. That’s fine. But in the next breath, it’s revealed that the anchorman also has a long-term agreement with WDIV-TV to produce periodic in-depth documentaries for this Detroit-based NBC affiliate.
How does the audience know which hat the anchor/PR man is wearing at which times?
As critics said at the time of the Minneapolis incident cited above, journalists who cross these lines between journalism and public relations raise warning flags. Questions of credibility, conflict of interest (real or perceived), and truthfulness arise when you’re being paid by someone to make them look good in the media — at the same time you’re supposedly being an independent, objective journalist in other venues.