Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Gimmie that Good 'Ole Independent Media

Regular giver to Heather, Pete
KOB--Working for Who?

Call me old fashioned but I like my journalism and my news clean. There was and I think still is a belief amongst journalists that publicly revealing your political affiliation was taboo. Actually coming out in support of a candidate and aiding that campaign was also out of bounds. Even though their writing or coverage might be slanted they wouldn't tar themselves by actually coming out for a particular candidate. This is because news sources strive for the "independent" label and associating themselves too close to candidates and political parties diminishes that perception among readers/listeners.

This is especially true of political reporters, news directors, program managers and such. I mean, does it really look bad if the traffic reporter at Fox give $25 to a candidate.? No, but should a reporter that writes about politics come out openly by giving money to Senator Domenici?

Mike Burgess, the Vice President and General Manager at KOB-TV seems to have not only put aside professional integrity but has done it several times. Burgess, who is in charge of the programs on Channel 4 (and presumably decides what makes news, how news is formatted, what politician faces appear in news promos, which reporters/anchors are hired, etc. . . ) is a regular, heavy donor to Heather Wilson.

Burgess has donated $2000 to Heather Wilson and $1000 to Senator Domenici. His donations to Wilson go back to 2000. He donated in the 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections for Heather.

The source for this information is Go to the donor look-up and search under Mike or Michael Burgess and you'll find it.

This is unusual in New Mexico journalism for sure. One has to ask, if Mike Burgess decides what makes news, does he do it through the lens of someone who supports Heather? I mean, if he's presented a story that speaks negatively of Heather does he choose not to run it, because he doesn't want to hurt someone he supports? Does Heather get special treatment? Does Heather get special access to KOB?

Does this explain why KOB has been so difficult to deal with on the subject of debates during Heather's congressional races.? Sure, KOB has begrudgingly aired debates, but it always appears that they hold them off to the last minute so that they don't reach the early voters and don't air but a few days before election day when their influence is minimal.

Before Michael Burgess writes in complaining, let me offer his likely counter-argument. "I'm just the General Manager/VP, I manage the station and have no impact on the news." alright, let's say we buy that, Mike. Then why do you give to Heather? Is it perhaps because Wilson sits on the House Commerce Committee and broadcasters are interested in influencing her vote on key decisions about communications/broadcast regulations?

That may be another story. Let me get back to the point--Is it ethical for Burgess to give to Wilson/Domenici? Burgess clearly is in charge of the station and he has put himself out not as the behind the scenes, aloof manager of the station but as the public face of KOB. He promos the stations "Working for You" campaign. As I argued above, the appearance of this stinks. Burgess needs to pull back.

Those who watch channel 4 should seriously think again about whether Channel 4 is "Working for You" or working for someone else.


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