Something to chew on: the Star's ethics policy

Dateline: Fri 16 May 2008

Given that the big shot Ali Zoibi at the Star is driving an Indianapolis 500 Pace car, and apparently has done so in past years, (as have other top dogs) here is a look at the Gannett rules. This is straight from the ethics policy:

"from Human Resource, Gannett Ethics Policy (undated)

"Gifts: Payments, girts or entertainment by or to a director, officer or employee in conjunction with business will be limited to normal business practices. (The U.S. tax laws' limit on deductibility of gifts is $25). For people in news operations, the recommended practice is to accept no gifts.

"Maintain an arms length relationship in all dealings, including those with suppliers or others dealing with the Company. This includes any credits or return of money for services such as collection agencies."

So is Ali buying his own gas? What constitutes "normal business practice," and by whose definition?

During my time at the paper, exec editor Dennis Ryerson ran a tight ship regarding ethics practices in the newsroom. He went so far as to forbid a reporter to attend a dinner at which the reporter was being honored; he did not want the reporter(s) to receive awards unless the paper was specifically vying for them in sanctioned contests. His notion was to never appear beholden to any special interest group, no matter how worthy.

Of course life is different for those at the top....

And were Ryerson's policies sound or priggish? It's an old debate: how much community involvement should a reporter have? The paper wanted and no doubt wants reporters to do public speaking for free to various groups. But not to be honored.



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