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Our Opinion: Revoking Missouri Times' Capitol press membership

Our Opinion: Revoking Missouri Times' Capitol press membership

May 15th, 2018 by News Tribune in Opinion

On Monday, the Capitol Press Corps — the association that makes up the news agencies covering the Capitol and the Legislature — voted to revoke the membership of one of its members, a newspaper called the Missouri Times.

That means it no longer is a member of the Capitol press and awarded office space in the Capitol and parking spaces along the North Capitol Drive.

Our newspaper cast a "yes" vote to revoke the Missouri Times membership.

We strive to cover the news, not make the news. However, in such a rare occasion, we feel like we owe you, our readers, an explanation.

The publisher of the Missouri Times, Scott Faughn, disclosed in a court proceeding that he had delivered $50,000 to the attorney of a key player in the criminal case and potential impeachment charges against Gov. Eric Greitens.

Faughn also has acted as a reporter covering some events at the Capitol, despite having competent reporters working for him.

As we outlined in a letter to the Capitol News Association, Faughn's donation violates a basic tenant of journalism — that a journalist should not participate in the issues of which he or she is covering, while also avoiding any hint of a conflict of interest.

The Capitol press corps is made up of reporters representing newspapers and other media from across Missouri, who generally maintain a full-time presence at the Capitol during the General Assembly's annual meetings — and some operate from Jefferson City year-round. It has historically been composed of some of the best journalists in the state — journalists who have earned a reputation of balanced reporting.

When a "journalist" is more interested in being involved in a big news event than simply reporting it, he no longer should be considered a journalist.

Continuing to allow him to work there would have risked tainting the reputations of the real journalists who continue to report the news, "without fear or favor" as we say in our profession.