In a little over two weeks, Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief of the Mason County Press, a local on-line news disseminator has covered the controversy over whether the Scottville Police Department is to-be, or not-to-be by publishing the following articles (presented in chronological order):
If the headlines don't provide you with enough information to gauge how Mr. Alway feels on the topic, then read the editorials and the sometimes-editorializing articles to come to the conclusion of which way he falls on the topics involved. Like everyone, he has an opinion on issues that affect him, this isn't an article faulting him for that.
What is missing from the articles and editorials is that Rob Alway is not only a member of the Scottville Planning Commission (SPC), but that he is the chairman of that appointive board, working side-by-side with Mayor Maki and under the continual purview of the Scottville City Commission.
It is, without much debate, a split commission made up of newer members that seem to be reflective of the fiscally conservative community, and a cadre of older members that are less so. The older legislators, which includes the mayor, have the majority, and therefore have the power. The newer legislators cannot capitalize therefore on the popular mandate they were given at the previous election.
Rob Alway knows this; he also knows that if he in any way agrees with the opposing view he could be ostracized in his position as chairman of the SPC. If he opposes this cabal or the other city officials, he could lose the access they currently provide him with. This could affect the impartiality of his reporting, and his duty to the public in his work at the SPC.
A common theme among news organizations when they discuss ethical issues is balancing a career in journalism with a career in government. Journalistically, this leads to conundrums that really shouldn't exist, which is why they highly discourage seeking an elective or appointive government office that could lead to problems. Most media ban such service outright so those conflicts never arise, and the appearance of impropriety never has a chance to be perceived.
The New York Times Ethical Journalism Handbook says that
In the NPR Ethics Handbook there is similar language:
Rob Alway's service on the SPC calls into question his editorials and any kind of perceived bias in his articles on Scottville politics. Yet he has never mentioned to my knowledge his involvement with the city in any of his articles. Such omissions and commissions do not speak well of his journalistic integrity.
Rob Alway AKA "Mason County Press" as a journalist needs to step back and present his readers with fair, unbiased and balanced reporting, which it obviously appears he is incapable of doing. Like I stated in another thread Rob Alway was way to eager to provide information to the poster on FB on the legal steps involving recalling a City Commissioner. It all makes sense now. Thanks for this enlightening piece of information.
Mr. Alway needs to relinquish his duties as a government official in order to maintain a neutral position on news stories. It's obvious he is way to involved with local politics to have an unbiased opinion in his work as an editor of a news agency. Even though he is good at what he does, his credibility should be his main concern if he wants to continue dispensing information via his news agency because his job is not to convince people what to believe regarding local issues but to only report local issues. When he editorializes on issues everyone knows it's based on information at hand which is appropriate but his editorials are also based on personal bias which should never be part of news coverage.
I thought Alway resigned his Scottville Planning Commission position over a conflict of interest concern.
When and why would he accept a reappointment?
Alway resigned from the SPC in 2013 citing his own reasons including such conflicts with then mayor Joe Baxter, as noted here is his resignation article from MCP.
Yet, unless the City of Scottville website is wrong (which is unlikely since it shows recent additions to the SPC including Mayor Maki in where Joe Baxter used to be), he has quietly rejoined the SPC, perhaps figuring that Baxter's retirement removes the conflict he had when the drunk ditch-driving incident came between them. I haven't heard anything from Rob since I put this up denying that he's on the SPC.
Media members, even if they are biased as all get out, may accept such positions thinking their inherent fairness can rise above the potential conflicts of interest.
Maybe somebody from Scottville knows the answer but as of February they were advertising for people to fill the vacant planning commision spots.
If they are still looking members I would like to nominate our own XLFD to fill one of the vacant positions as only one of the two absent positions require you to be a resident of Scottville.
I could not find any info if these positions have been filled.