Not mentioned, to its shame, is the fact that the same Roanoke Times's publisher, Debbie Meade, is - or was - up to her eyeballs in the decision-making at Roanoke's most infamous abortion mill - Planned Parenthood of the Blue Ridge.
Is there something unethical about the paper pushing an outside enterprise that directly benefits the outside efforts of its top boss?
Amazingly, the Times's editorial team says no. From its October 31, 2006 publication:
Publishers are people with opinions, just like everyone else. Ms. Meade’s opinion on abortion would be the same regardless of her involvement with Planned Parenthood. And her opinion matches the longstanding editorial position of the newspaper, so there is no conflict of interest, and there is no need for her to recuse herself from editorial board discussions on the topic. The two publishers preceding Ms. Meade have been supporters of Planned Parenthood, but not board members. Their involvement did not have a negative impact on The Roanoke Times’ ability or willingness to cover all sides of the abortion question.All that's well and good but it avoids the big question. Meade's "opinion" is one thing. Her work outside the Roanoke Times offices is another. What if she were on the board of General Electric and the editorialists at the Times started hawking its new F136 fighter jet engine? Wouldn't the fact that the person writing their paychecks is also responsible for making that engine a success be something worth disclosing?
Traditionally, the publisher’s opinion carries the most weight of any other person involved in determining the editorial position of the newspaper. Publishers are not expected maintain a strict appearance of objectivity. But fairness – actual fairness, not merely the appearance – is of utmost importance. Which is why publishers generally leave the day-to-day operation of the news sections to the newspaper’s editor.
It may “defy common sense,” but the publisher’s political opinions will have no effect on our news coverage.
The Roanoke Times maintains a strict wall of separation between the news and opinion functions, and we understand how absolutely vital that is to our credibility. And the credibility of this newspaper is its most valued and valuable asset.
Bottom line: Debbie Meade is an active abortion industry player. Her company, the Roanoke Times, writes powerful editorials supporting the abortion industry. Yet nowhere in those editorials do we learn of her involvement. Nor of any pressure being applied to have those editorials printed?
"[T]he credibility of this newspaper is its most valued and valuable asset."
A devalued asset - every time full disclosure is intentionally shunned - if there ever was one.