And Carilion Health System.
On the latter, just ask Roanoke Times reporter Jeff Sturgeon. If you can find him ...
I wonder why I haven't read about this flap in the Roanoke Times?
Something’s Rotten in Roanoke
Times is silent on reassignment of reporter after local hospital pulls its ads
by Dean Starkman, Columbia Journalism Review
The Roanoke Times is strangely silent about whether it reassigned a reporter at the behest of a big local business.
A couple of weeks ago, a strong Wall Street Journal story peeled the curtain back on how a monopoly local hospital—and a nonprofit one at that—throws its weight around Roanoke, jacking up prices, cutting off referrals to independent doctors, and, tellingly, pulling ads from the Times after repeatedly complaining about a reporter who had been aggressively covering the hospital.The Times moved the reporter, Jeff Sturgeon, to another beat, and in the Journal story, didn’t say whether its personnel decision was influenced by the hospital, Carilion Health System. That’s here:
"As tension between Carilion and Roanoke’s independent doctors grew in 2006, a group of 200 doctors formed an organization called the Coalition for Responsible Healthcare to protest the Carilion Clinic plan. The group posted a petition on its Web site and put up billboards around Roanoke that read: “Carilion Clinic. Big Dream. Big Questions.” The local newspaper, the Roanoke Times, covered the controversy in a series of articles written by its health-care reporter, Jeff Sturgeon.
A few months later, in March 2007, the Roanoke Times moved Mr. Sturgeon off the health-care beat after Carilion complained repeatedly about his coverage. Carilion says it communicated its displeasure to the paper’s editors, but never asked that Mr. Sturgeon be reassigned. Carilion withdrew most of its advertising from the paper, but says it did that as part of a reallocation of its ad budget. 'Any friction that exists between an organization like us and the media is entirely appropriate,' Mr. Earnhart says.'" (link)
Oh, and there's this:
"Mr. Sturgeon, who now covers transportation, declined requests for comment."
Now I don't have a problem with Carilion bringing to bear its considerable monetary influence over the Times. It is a powerful and influential business entity who's first order of business is business. I do find it remarkable, though, that the "journalists" at the Times would put profit before journalistic integrity. I guess they're just like the rest of us after all. Except on that integrity part.
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Update 6:20 pm: Roanoke RNR has pointed us to this memo reported to have been written by Roanoke Times Managing Editor Michael Stowe to his employees, denying the allegation. I'd suggest you read it carefully and grasp what's not disclosed in that memo.