Pueblo newspaper’s upper management exposed as Giron recall backers

Sunday, July 28, 2013
CONTACT: Amy Runyon-Harms, Executive Director at [email protected]

DENVER: Presented with clear evidence of an unethical conflict of interest, ProgressNow Colorado today called on The Pueblo Chieftain to disclose to its readers that several members of upper management at the paper signed the recall petition against Sen. Angela Giron.

The Pueblo Chieftain faces a major credibility problem reporting on the recall election in Senate District 3, with upper management at the paper clearly biased against Sen. Angela Giron—without disclosing that bias to their readers,” said Amy Runyon-Harms, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado.

The Chieftain’s assistant publisher, Jane Rawlings, general manager Ray Stafford and production director Dave Dammann all signed recall petitions against Sen. Giron. In addition, Rawlings’ husband David Dill actually contributed to both the recall committee and to Giron’s possible opponent, Republican George Rivera.

The Society for Professional Journalists calls for—at minimum—disclosure that management at the newspaper is politically active.

SPJ’s website has this to say regarding political activity by journalists and news executives:

“Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived…

“Skeptics of journalistic objectivity are quick to point out that some publishers and owners of news media outlets may not follow the rules they lay down for their employees. A few get more deeply involved, and they may contribute to candidates. Is this ethical? It’s at best a double standard, and a questionable practice. But at the very minimum there should be public disclosure — in their own media — when media magnates get politically involved in this way.” 1

Fred Brown, who was a political reporter and columnist for The Denver Post for more than 40 years, wrote the white paper as co-chair of the SPJ’s ethics committee.

In addition to signing the recall petition, Chieftain General Manager Ray Stafford sent a threatening email to Sen. Giron during the legislative session. 2

“The Chieftain needs to be public about their activities and come clean with their readers, so that everyone knows the true extent of their involvement in the Senate District 3 recall attempt,” said Runyon-Harms. “Otherwise, how can anyone trust their reporting or their editorials?”