Friday, January 22, 2010

Nashville Brass: Tennessean Donations to Convention Center

The TennesseanImage via Wikipedia
Journalism ethics faculty tired of citing the infamous L.A. Times profit-sharing Sunday supplement deal with The Staples Center, home of the Lakers, as an example of  a conflict of interest now have a fresh example, courtesy of the Gannett paper, The (Nashville) Tennessean.

Though it's not unusual for newspapers editorially to boost taxpayer-funded projects that might better the community, the problem arises when journalistic watchdogs put their money where their mouths are. Witness the proposed $585 million Nashville Music City Center convention center that The Tennessean endorsed in a Sunday editorial, two days before elected officials gave a thumbs-up to the project.

It turns out that The Tennessean made three $5,000 contributions to a group backing the Center, which newsroom editors claim was news to them. Executive Editor Mark Silverman expressed surprise to the alternative weekly Nashville Scene at the news of his paper's largesse. Impartiality still takes a hit, even when a newspaper claims it was not motivated editorially by a business decision by its owner.

Visitor fees and taxes are expected to cover $40 million annually in construction debt through 2043 for the Music City Center.  At the same time the Gannett paper was donating to the convention center cause, it was laying off 150 employees in a cost-savings measure.

Looks as if The Tennessean had a tin ear on the Music City Center project.

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