Writer did not understand
In a recent letter to the editor of The Times Argus, Patrick Cashman has accused VTDigger, and its nonprofit parent organization, the Vermont Journalism Trust, of managing its policy on political activity by news staff in an inappropriate manner. Cashman has misunderstood the wording of the policy and has asserted that it applies to all board members. Unfortunately, he has singled out board member Ina Smith for criticism, which is inappropriate and unfair to Smith, who is not covered by the policy in question. The policy states specific limitations on political activity by staff members and board members who are directly and actively involved in preparing VTDigger’s news reports. Those staff members, such as business-side and support staff, who are not involved in preparing news reports are not covered. Likewise, board members who are not involved in news preparation, like Smith, are not covered.
This is a typical news organization policy on political activity, meant to insulate news reports from political influence. The only board member who plays a role in news preparation is myself, as chairman of the Ethics and Practices Committee. The role I play is to provide occasional editorial counsel to VTDigger’s editor, Anne Galloway. For that reason, the policy on political activity does apply to me.
Patrick Cashman is one of the most frequent contributors to VTDigger’s Comments section. We are very sorry he does not feel we dealt with him in a forthright manner. But his interpretation of our policy as applying to all board members, regardless of whether they are involved in the news report or not, is not correct.
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