Row over ethical conflict prompts radio station manager to resign

After a combative online exchange with CPB Ombudsman Joel Kaplan over a perceived conflict of interest between his political aspirations and his role as president of an NPR-affiliated public station, Marshall Miles of WHDD-FM/AM in Sharon, Conn., temporarily resigned from his pubcasting job Oct. 15. Miles, who until last week ran the station that calls itself “Robin Hood Radio,” recently decided to run for a seat on the Region One Board of Education, which oversees a largely rural district in northwestern Connecticut. After local critics complained that Miles’s candidacy conflicted with his work as a pubcasting manager, Kaplan agreed with them in an online column published Oct. 10. Continue Reading

Ombud answers watchdog’s concerns about public radio’s America Abroad

The ombudsman for America Abroad, a monthly public radio show covering foreign policy and international affairs, has responded to criticism from the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting regarding a recent show about developments in energy technology. In a May 31 blog post, FAIR said that the April episode of America Abroad  “sounded like an infomercial” for fracking, the hydraulic fracturing process used in natural gas production. FAIR pointed out that the show was funded by the Qatar Foundation International, a philanthropy funded by the royal family of Qatar. Qatar is a leading exporter of natural gas — in 2011, it was the world’s top exporter, according to the International Gas Union. FAIR also took issue with the appearance on the show of Henry Jacoby, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor involved with a study about the future of natural gas. The MIT Energy Initiative, which produced the report, includes oil and gas companies as members, and the study’s advisory committee included representatives from natural-gas industry groups. Continue Reading

Outside consultant says WDET fundraising spots weren’t unethical

Pitch spots requesting donations for an audio preservation project at Detroit’s WDET did not violate fundraising ethics, according to an accredited fundraising consultant who reviewed the campaign at the station’s request. The spots, which simulated tape decay of recorded music in the station’s library to solicit donations for the preservation project, prompted an internal complaint that WDET had misled listeners about the state of its collection (Current, Sept. 10). WDET General Manager J. Mikel Ellcessor, who approved the spots, apologized to staff and to listeners who donated to the campaign, and pledged to have an independent consultant evaluate the matter. Rick Kress, a credentialed advanced certified fundraising executive retained by WDET, reviewed an audio sample from the spots and other materials generated by the fundraiser — including the letters of apology. Continue Reading

Hearing by ethics watchdog could sew up feud in Seattle

Members of a Seattle-based media-watchdog group weighed in March 31 [2012] on a yearlong dispute between an antiabortion group and KUOW, the city’s all-news pubradio outlet, bringing the disagreement to an end for the time being. A majority of panelists convened by the Washington News Council voted in agreement that KUOW had made errors in a story involving the Vitae Foundation, and that the mistakes merited on-air corrections or clarifications. KUOW had already corrected and clarified the story, though only on its website. But most members of the WNC panel agreed that KUOW had no responsibility to give the Vitae Foundation additional on-air coverage after the story aired. Vitae had asked KUOW for on-air reporting as reparation for the initial story’s flaws, and initially the news council had backed that request. Continue Reading