Mesa County Commissioner and former Republican lieutenant governor candidate Janet Rowland will be a reporter on legislative news for a Grand Junction NBC News affiliate, KKCO. Jean Reynolds, KKCO’s news director and the evening anchor, said that Rowland will cover local legislators, Sen. Josh Penry, R-Fruita, Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction and Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction and Rowland will also report on legislation important to Mesa County.Because Rowland was Penry’s campaign manager and she is being mentioned as a challenger against Buescher in 2008 and since Reynold’s husband is active in the Mesa County Republican Party, a Grand Junction Sentinel article noted that Rowland’s arrangement with KKCO is breaking with journalistic ethics.
The Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics, a commonly accepted ethical charter, charges news organizations to ensure their correspondents are “free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.”
…. Michael McDevitt, a journalism professor at the University of Colorado, said from his understanding of KKCO’s arrangement with Rowland, “from a traditional or conventional perspective on journalism ethics, it’s clear that it’s a conflict of interest.”
McDevitt, who teaches journalism ethics, said despite the national trend toward opinion-driven broadcast journalism, as pioneered by the “fair and balanced” Fox News channel, there is still an appetite for truly balanced, unbiased reporting.
Reynolds defended her decision to use Rowland, saying the 5:30 pm and 10 pm news segment will be “informative sessions.”