From Downie: Just A Reminder…

Sorta curious why Len Downie felt the need to remind staffers recently of the paper’s Conflict of Interest policy:

To: Newsroom Staff
From: Len Downie

Please read this re-statement of our Conflict of Interest policy, which is being updated in the Style book. Nothing has changed but it has been a long time since we reminded everyone about this.

Conflict of Interest

Document Last Modified: 01/22/2003 11:25:01 AM

This newspaper is pledged to avoid conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict of interest, wherever and whenever possible. We have adopted stringent policies on these issues, conscious that they may be more restrictive than is customary in the world of private business.

In particular:

We pay our own way.

If you want to read the Post’s entire conflict of interest policy, we’ve got it after the jump.

Other Post notes:

  • Speaking of Downie, he talks with his BMFMRE (Bestest, Most Favorite Media Reporter Ever) — Erik Wemple — about the paper’s plans for a politics website (leading to the obvious follow-up question: How is the Post still trying to figure out how to handle online political coverage?!?).

  • Guess what Katharine Weymouth told a colleague recently? “I’m not looking for one person to replace Len Downie…I’m looking for a whole team.” (Leading some to speculate if that team could have been the crew that recently travelled to London on behalf of the paper: Jim Brady, Liz Spayd and Phil Bennett). Of course, she also said that she wants a newsroom leader “who when they say ‘Take the hill!’ they do it.” That person, of course, would not be Phil Bennett. (Bennett, Brady and Spayd were also seen in the newsroom of London’s Guardian newspaper. Why? Well, who knows, but the Guardian has a reputation for having best integrated its print/web products…something the Post is desperate to do).

  • We hear there’s a big battle for who’s gonna take over the Home section (and the Health section may fold since, well, everyone has basically left the section).

  • And lastly, Harry Jaffe picks his favorite Washington Post writers, a list that includes Dana Milbank, J. Freedom du Lac, Walter Pincus and Carolyn Hax.


    Washington Post conflict of interest policy:

      Conflict of Interest

      Document Last Modified: 01/22/2003 11:25:01 AM

      This newspaper is pledged to avoid conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict of interest, wherever and whenever possible. We have adopted stringent policies on these issues, conscious that they may be more restrictive than is customary in the world of private business. In particular:

      We pay our own way.

      We accept no gifts from news sources. We accept no free trips. We neither seek nor accept preferential treatment that might be rendered because of the positions we hold. Exceptions to the no-gift rule are few and obvious — invitations to meals, for example, may be accepted when they are occasional and innocent but not when they are repeated and their purpose is deliberately calculating. Free admissions to any event that is not free to the public are prohibited. The only exception is for seats not sold to the public, as in a press box. Whenever possible, arrangements will be made to pay for such seats.

      We work for no one except The Washington Post without permission from supervisors. Many outside activities and jobs are incompatible with the proper performance of work on an independent newspaper. Connections with government are among the most objectionable. To avoid real or apparent conflicts of interest in the coverage of business and the financial markets, all members of the Business and Financial staff are required to disclose their financial holdings and investments to the assistant managing editor in charge of the section. The potential for conflict, however, is not limited to members of the Business and Financial staff. All reporters and editors, wherever they may work, are required to disclose to their department head any financial interests that might be in conflict or give the appearance of a conflict in their reporting or editing duties. Department heads will make their own financial disclosures to the managing editor.

      We freelance for no one and accept no speaking engagements without permission from department heads. Permission to freelance will be granted only if The Post has no interest in the story and only if it is to appear in a medium that does not compete with The Post.
      We do not accept payment – either honoraria or expenses – from governments, government-funded organizations, groups of government officials, political groups or organizations that take positions on controversial issues. A reporter or editor also cannot accept payment from any person, company or organization that he or she covers. And we should avoid accepting money from individuals, companies, trade associations or organizations that lobby government or otherwise try to influence issues the newspaper covers. Broadcast organizations, educational institutions, social organizations and many professional organizations usually fall outside this provision unless the reporter or editor is involved in coverage of them.
      It is important that no freelance assignments and no honoraria be accepted that might in any way be interpreted as disguised gratuities. We make every reasonable effort to be free of obligation to news sources and to special interests. We must be wary of entanglement with those whose positions render them likely to be subjects of journalistic interest and examination. Our private behavior as well as our professional behavior must not bring discredit to our profession or to The Post.

      We avoid active involvement in any partisan causes — politics, community affairs, social action, demonstrations — that could compromise or seem to compromise our ability to report and edit fairly. Relatives cannot fairly be made subject to Post rules, but it should be recognized that their employment or their involvement in causes can at least appear to compromise our integrity. The business and professional ties of traditional family members or other members of your household must be disclosed to department heads.