A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Ethics In-Brief

By Quill


In an effort to diminish concern about its impartiality during Michael Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor of New York, Bloomberg News has hired Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism dean Tom Goldstein to oversee the company’s coverage.

Goldstein, a former New York Times and Wall Street Journal reporter who later served as press secretary for former Mayor Ed Koch, has been on the job since mid-December. He monitors Bloomberg News’ newsroom and advises Matthew Winkler, Bloomberg News’ editor in chief, on potential conflicts.

However, Goldstein’s hiring has brought up some ethical issues, with some critics worrying that the appointment may be a conflict in itself, according to The New York Observer.

While it’s not uncommon for academic officials to hold jobs in the private sector, having the head of one of the country’s most prestigious journalism schools

– one that’s part of a university that regularly has business before the city – in a business relationship with an organization owned by the mayor is an arrangement that concerns some journalism educators.

“I wish I had heard of this earlier so we could have met and discussed this, because there’s conflict of interests involved here,” said Columbia journalism professor James Carey.

Mark Crispin Miller, a journalism professor at New York University, called the relationship “troublesome.”

Other faculty members said they do not view the arrangement as a problem, however.

“I don’t think it puts Columbia in a weird spot at all,” said Columbia journalism professor Samuel Freedman. “I think what’s weird is the reason it’s probably being done – the fact that we have a media mogul as mayor.”

Marvin Kalb, the journalist turned media critic and a lecturer at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a friend of Goldstein’s, said, “I have the highest regard for Tom Goldstein, and if anyone can do an impossible job, he can.”

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