Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mass. Weekly Hires Ombudsman to Monitor Coverage of Publisher's Wife's Candidacy

English: Map of the Neighborhoods of Dorcheste...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
That Mass. Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry (D-Dorchester) would pursue the seat vacated by State Sen. Jack Hart in a special election slated for May 28, following an April 30 primary vote, is not unusual, as the Bay State is not wanting for ambitious politicians.

What adds some zest to the race is that Rep. Forry's spouse, Bill Forry, is editor and publisher, and her father-in-law, Ed Forry, assistant publisher of the weekly Dorchester Record. To derail any potential complaints about bias and unfair coverage, the Record has hired Michael Jonas to serve as a temporary ombudsman to monitor the paper's election coverage, the Web site reported.

Jonas, who has never served as an ombudsman before, has a verbal agreement to serve in that capacity at least through the primary, though its unclear whether his time card will continue to be punched if Rep. Forry doesn't best her primary opponents, Nick Collins, Joseph Ureneck and Maureen Dahill in the April run-off.

Bill Forry said carrying an ombudsman full-time is a luxury that a small paper can't afford. When his spouse ran for state rep in a special election in 2004-2005, the Record hired then-Brockton Enterprise reporter Dave Connolly to be a temporary ombudsman, much as Jonas is now.

Of course, the conflict of interest issue concerning journo-politico marital unions doesn't end when the last ballot is counted. The real question is how has the Dorchester Record covered Rep. Forry's nearly eight years in office and would its reporters and editorial writers be balanced in their coverage were she to succeed Sen. Hart?

Gail Huff, a Boston television reporter/anchor, stepped down from her position at WCVB-TV when her husband, Scott Brown, battled Elizabeth Warren in last fall's U.S. Senate race in which Warren prevailed.
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