When business trumps biz journalism integrity

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Rem Rieder, the editor of American Journalism Review, writes for USA Today about why the integrity of CNET’s technology journalists has been brought into question because of parent company CBS Corp.’s intervention in its awards.

Rieder writes, “Turrentine and her staff had been placed in a terrible situation by the CBS honchos. Not only was their judgment rejected for reasons having nothing to do with the merits of their journalism. They weren’t even allowed to give an honest account of what had taken place.

“As Sandoval tweeted as he walked away from the company, the fact that ‘CNET wasn’t honest about what occurred regarding Dish is unacceptable to me. We are supposed to be truth tellers.’ He added, ‘I believe CNET’s leaders are also honest but used poor judgement [sic].’

“Compounding the damage, CBS felt compelled to issue this self-serving statement Monday:’”CBS has nothing but the highest regard for the editors and writers at CNET, and has managed that business with respect as part of its CBS Interactive division since it was acquired in 2008. This has been an isolated and unique incident in which a product that has been challenged as illegal, was removed from consideration for an award. The product in question is not only the subject of a lawsuit between Dish and CBS, but between Dish and nearly every other major media company as well. CBS has been consistent on this situation from the beginning, and, in terms of covering actual news, CNET maintains 100% editorial independence, and always will. We look forward to the site building on its reputation of good journalism in the years to come.’

“That’s reassuring, guys. In other words, we have the highest regard for journalistic independence, except when it’s bad for business.  Or, give us a break. We only misbehaved once.”

Read more here.