WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Newspaper Losing its Journalistic Integrity

Oct 28, 2014

The Chicago Sun-Times recently ran a story critical of Bruce Rauner, the Republican nominee for Illinois governor.  Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney said he and others spent a month working on the story, which was cleared by the newspaper’s legal department.

But Rauner’s campaign made a big fuss over the story and ultimately McKinney was suspended for a few days.  The newspaper then broke a long-standing tradition of not endorsing candidates and endorsed Rauner.   

McKinney last week resigned from the paper, saying it “No longer has the backs of reporters like me.”

Shop Talk panelist Rich Moreno is sharply critical of the newspaper. He said while many good, fair-minded reporters are on staff, the actions of the newspaper’s leadership cast a cloud over everyone there. He pointed out Rauner once owned a percentage in the Sun-Times and said this episode suggests there are still close ties between and paper and Rauner.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said there needs to be a wall between the money side of the paper (management) and the newsroom. She feels management overstepped its authority by getting involved in editorial decisions.

Panelist Rich Egger wondered whether editorial board meetings with candidates still serve a purpose, and whether endorsements still serve a purpose. Crighton doesn’t like the newspaper tradition of issuing political endorsements. Moreno said he does not have a problem with endorsements.

Moreno also said editorial board meetings with candidates serve a purpose because they give top reporters a chance to sit down with candidates and ask important questions.  Egger pointed out Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst of Iowa chose to forego that process, but was willing to be interviewed on the national Fox network, where the reporters are less likely to ask tough questions specific to Iowa.