I always commend anyone willing to step up and serve the community by running for public office. However, I take serious issue with people putting themselves in unethical positions in order to serve.
Thanks to the write-in votes of less than 100 people, Jack Fowler is the new mayor of Johnsonburg. He has been active in the borough for a long time, and typically this would deserve a hat tip. However, Fowler is the publisher of The Johnsonburg Press, and appears to have no intention of choosing between mayor and publisher. But it's a choice he needs to make.
One of the main tenets of the code of ethics developed by the Society of Professional Journalists is to "act independently" – to avoid "conflicts of interest, real or perceived." Providing hyper-local information on the operation of government in a community while at the same time serving as the de facto leader of said government is not avoiding conflict at all. Instead, it's the very *definition* of conflict. It would be like Paul Ryan becoming the new Congressional reporter for *The New York Times * — while still Speaker of the House. Or the new correspondent for *The Washington Post* covering the Russian collusion investigation is none other than Donald J. Trump.
Reporters cannot report on themselves, or things they are close to. Even if Mr. Fowler has every intention to not use his newspaper as a political vehicle for his own personal benefit, the *perception* of a conflict remains as both mayor and publisher. Mr. Fowler should be commended for wanting to step up and become mayor when no one else did. But he can't serve both roles — not while ensuring the very community he wants to lead will have a transparent government, and an independent newspaper to keep that government accountable.
– Michael Hinman, Brooklyn, N.Y.