UPDATE 2/4/19: And now Crain’s is reporting that the Sun-Times defied a court order not to print what was in the affidavit. The Sun-Times got the affidavit, which was supposed to be confidential, because it was accidentally posted on a public website. The Sun-Times may have had the legal right to do so, but why is that appropriate when publication would presumably endanger the rest of the investigation? In addition, our objections below about dribbling out the contents still stand.

I got a note Friday from Joe Mathewson, who teaches law and ethics at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. He’s a regular Wirepoints reader and formerly covered the Supreme Court for the Wall Street Journal.

He said he assigned his class to consider whether the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics applies to the questions we raised about the Chicago Sun-Times and the explosive Solis affidavit, which only the Sun-Times has. See our article on that linked here.

As we described, the Sun-Times has been withholding and dribbling out the contents of the affidavit instead of releasing the whole thing. Because early voting in Chicago’s election began last Tuesday, I think that’s improper. Much of the information withheld and later dribbled out clearly might be considered material by many voters, who have cast their ballots without that information.

Joe did not offer an answer to the question. He said it’s a rather novel issue because these matters usually pertain to improper release of information, but this is about failure to release. Nor do I know whether journalism gurus would, technically, think the code applies and whether it is being violated respecting the withholding of information itself.

However,  I see that the Code also says journalists should “Explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. Encourage a civil dialogue with the public about journalistic practices, coverage and news content.” I don’t think the Sun-Times has done that. I suspect their answer would be “We’re milking this for all we can,” but they’d rather not say that.

I also see that the Code says journalists should “Expose unethical conduct in journalism, including within their organizations.” Shouldn’t the regular media be asking the same questions we are?

Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.

 

 

 

 

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Riverbender
1 year ago

The Sun is a big time supporter of the them that is in Illinois. Why would anyone expect anything different from them?

NB-Chicago
1 year ago

As a side note, another basic problem with st vrs trib reporting is that st columist double as repoters. How can you write a highly opinionated left leaning column one day and turn around and write supposed impartial reporting the next and maintain jornalistic integrety? Many other publication suffer the same fate.

NB-Chicago
1 year ago

ST is dribbing out more details today. I send emails and as usual get no response. Everyone should email st and demand they publish full 120 page affodavite.

NB-Chicago
1 year ago
Reply to  NB-Chicago

Also email trib, crains, wttw, news outlets, all mayoral and aldermanic canidates

Bob Out of here
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

It’s too bad they did that, because God only knows who else the feds might have gotten the goods on if this hadn’t leaked. Wonder if they leaked it to protect people higher up the food chain.

NB-Chicago
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

the public’s still left in no-mans land, still think st needs to declare what there intentions are? looks like they’re going to keep dribbling out stories from what was printed today. not saying it’s right, but if your fusco, and you’ve already decided to disregard judge, than why not go all out and release the whole thing? it’s that, or make a statement saying we are going to let the feds handle it going forward and not leak out any more stories. the cats out of the bag. wonder if an elections ever been suspended? clear up solis caper and… Read more »

NB-Chicago
1 year ago
Reply to  NB-Chicago

while I thank hinze & crains for somewhat explaining how st got there hands on solis affidavit, the more I think about it there’s still a ton of unanswered questions about where st motivation lay. would be hard to imagine there’s not a gigantic political time bomb yet to explode, why else would you dribble out stories, save the best for last. with st ownership can you trust them to be impartial?–sure they’re 100% behind preckwinkle. whatever remains in affidavit is a powerful tool to sink a candidate that only they know. and looks like st has made the decision… Read more »