Dr. Tallent replies in a more moderate tone and I respond.

Ron the Cop


Dear Det. Wright,

I would hope that I am correct about the SPJ code of ethics – I was one of 14 people in the room when we wrote it and heard (clearly) from our legal council, Bruce Stanford, about why we could not include an enforcement clause. Unlike lawyers and physicians, journalists are not required to belong to any specific professional organization in order to practice our profession; that is the difference in why SPJ cannot enforce the code. However, we do like to say that thinking journalists will follow it as a matter of practice and I know that several newspapers have used the code as a template.

I have also seen the letter from the Washington State Bar Association in re: Tim Connor’s grievance against Duane Swinton. Appeal or not, at this time the WSBA cannot find any clear evidence that Mr. Swinton violated the Rules of Professional Conduct, so no conflict of interest. Unless it is overturned on appeal, we are at the end of this discussion.

After reading the rest of your last message, it is very clear that you favor the principles of the Committee of Concerned Journalists. Congratulations. I stand by the principles of the Society of Professional Journalists. Don’t fret, there are some similarities. However, what I see is that you believe in what we term “citizen journalism,” a concept I am very much in disagreement with due to a number of legal, ethical and education issues when it comes to reporting news. Let us just say that on this point, we must agree to disagree.

As for your point about the fundamental responsibility of a free press is to “We the people,” again, we disagree. If you understand the business of journalism and the history of media (for which I strongly recommend you read “The Press And America” by Emery, Emery & Roberts) while the media reports information to the public, the media outlets have always been owned by individuals or corporations in this country, and these individuals or corporations are free of government oversight, permitted to cover what they considered to be newsworthy to their readers/viewers/listeners. As I say in class, the person who can afford to set up the media outlet (pay for the presses or the equipment to send out over the airwaves), they are the people who control the message as well as the medium. It is a cold, cruel fact that journalism is a business and the businesses are most often owned by individuals, whether it be Benjamin Franklin, Rupert Murdoch or a family.

As I’ve said, I believe that we simply must agree to disagree on several points including your “facts” and your absolute hatred of the Cowles family.


Becky Tallent

Becky Tallent, Ed.D.
The Spokesman-Review
Spokane, WA


Dr. Tallent, Ombudsman
Spokane, WA

Dear Dr. Tallent:

Thank you for your clarification regarding SPJ. I might add though as a past secretary of the board of trustees of a national association, an association does have some control over renewal of memberhsip of their members who don’t abide by standards, by-laws, or rules of the association. Yes I do understand the business nature of journalism. What I do object to is the elitist sometimes paternalistic attitude of MSM news outlets and prefer the New/Alernative media or as you refer to as citizen journalism or crowd sourcing. A better sense of reality emerges when one takes and average or triangulates the multiple sources of information in the Blogos.

One of my chief complaints as Mr. Smith is quite aware is the AP and other newswire feeds out of Iraq suffer from shoddy sourcing. And at times are suckered into running stories that are enemy propaganda. The enemy is very adept at doing this to achieve its objectives that it can’t on the battlefield in head to head combat. This is to weaken the political will and support of the American people. As I’ve said many times in S-R Blogs the Bush Administration has made major mistakes in the prosecution of this war but on the other hand the MSM has presented a skewed sense of reality. This is documented at the Media Mythbusters website and blog. The citizen correspondents I monitor are by far more accurate in their reports than stories filed by the newswires. The Blogos has massive parallel processing power that has the fact checking ability that no newsroom can afford. This is where I believe a positive collaborative relationship between the new and old will emerge.

Yes I will read the source you recommended. I would also encourage you to read Hugh Hewitt’s book Blog and Law Professor Glenn Reynolds (AKA Instapundit) book An Army of Davids. They both are discussing the major communication reformation period we are living in that is as great or greater than that of Martin Luther when control of the information, news, and thought of the day was wrested away from the elitist aristocracy and the Catholic Church.

It is the diversity of views I seek. This is having a major impact on our current presidential election:

The Power of New Media on the Presidency

It’s no longer,

. . . just the Democratics vs. Republicans, , but also the Political Class vs. the People. The Political Class includes Old Media, powerful incumbents on both sides of the aisle, political operatives, lobbyists, and all others who suck-off the teat of the federal government. The People are the New Media-fueled citizens who are now listening to that multitude of voices competing in a freewheeling marketplace of ideas. What is shocking is that in this cycle, the Political Class actually lost.
And here’s a companion piece:

News Without Reporters

. . .We have lost perspective on what a reporter actually is — a middleman. On one side are news events. On the other are audiences who want to know about them. A reporter’s job is to move “the truth” from Point A to Point B as accurately as possible.

this relates to my remark to Mr. Floyd after I was banned from commenting in S-R Blogs:

. . .I posted an opinion piece in “A Matter of Opinion” re the death penalty ruling and the new breaking news re Duncan pulling a stunt to act as his own attorney. The “thought police” have pulled it and now we have three identical pieces from Casey. So much for voicing an “opinion” Mr. Floyd. This is why the MSM is on its downward spiral. You no longer control the flow of information and decide what is “new” news any longer.

With regard to the inherent conflict of interest with Mr. Swinton’s continued representation of the S-R, while the WSBA found no legal ethical violation the Washington Press Council did find this was a journalistic conflict. That was my point regarding will the S-R follow it’s own code of ethics et al as I explain here:

S-R Reports on WSBA initial ruling on Swinton bar complaint


BREAKING – Bar Investigator finds “insufficient evidence” that S-R attorney violated state ethics rules

I do find it encouraging that Mr. Smith has chosen to seek outside counsel on matters involving RPS. In fact I’m the one who challenged S-R Reporter Jonathan Brunt to seek the documents that Attorney O. Yal Lewis sent to Mayor Verner that the City Attorney is blocking from release. I would encourage Mr. Smith to continue to fund this effort because these documents should be disclosed to the public and may be in fact adverse to the interests of the Cowles Co.

The bottom line the old MSM paradigm is shifting just as it was in Martin Luther’s time with the advent of the printing press. The large overhead of the print, radio and TV media is no longer necessary to communicate with the people. The medium of expression is now essentially free – the Internet and the Blogos. As I’ve written:

. . .The new media does not require large capital investments e.g, printing presses and transmission networks of the traditional or mainstream media. The new medium of expression is essentially free for all to participate. The currency of the new media is the validity, reliability, and predictability of the information provided in one’s own daily life. The sources that best meet those needs will attract readers and grow Those sources which lack credibility and/or don’t correct misinformation quickly will die.

and updated with this piece:

UPDATE – The Currency of the New Media

Again thank you for your thoughtful reply. As for the Cowles Co we will have to agree to disagree.


Det. Ron Wright (Retired)