Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Janine Gates journalist, non-profit president and city council candidate

First off, I think Janine Gates if a very worthy council candidate. I happen to support one of her opponents (Jeff Kingsbury), but this post isn't meant as an attack to dissuade anyone from supporting Janine. Actually, it is a credit to Janine that she is so involved in her community (and writes a very good blog) that she has so many roles to balance.

But, how does Janine balance her roles as candidate, journalist and president of a non-profit that publishes Green Pages, a locally focused environmental journal that covers local government? I'd say the lines are too blurred for comfort.

For example, Janine has been using her journalism blog to post press releases from her campaign. She calls her Little Hollywood blog an "independent journalism" effort, but it isn't independent if she posts campaign literature there, at least not independent of her own political ambitions. I have to question the rest of her coverage, if its actually independent or if it is colored by her biases and political views.

And, while she serves as president of Green Pages, she is afforded a editorial bully pulpit there that neither of her opponents can claim. Her columns have not shied away from local politics, and her column from the March/April Green Pages could almost be campaign rhetoric. Certainly not table pounding stuff, but still something you might hear during election season from a candidate:
For many, the isthmus issue is indicative of how we will treat each other in the future. Senator Karen Fraser's bill, the undaunted efforts of community members and Mayor Mah's new interest in exploring alternatives with the community may mark a new beginning in how we actively discuss such issues.

This issue is a test, perhaps, of how well we can work together on our city's list of priorities and proceed through complicated conversations about urban density, the continued loss of farmland, our relationship with the county, and the proper collection of impact fees so growth pays for growth.

We must work toward a common vision and ensure that everyone's concerns and ideas are not only heard, but acknowledged and used by city leaders in creating new and better solutions. There are trust issues, to be sure. It's a small town and we all wear several hats. We are intertwined in so many ways. Democracy can get kind of messy sometimes, but when common ground is found, we can all feel pretty good about ourselves and move forward.

Let me be clear here. I've been thinking about this issue for over a month now and I'm not putting this up lightly.

If not for Jeff Kingsbury, I'd have a hard time choosing between Steve Buxbaum and Janine Gates, and honestly I'd probably be supporting Janine because of her blogging. But, I am troubled by the lines blurring.

Also, this is not a concern troll sort of post. I come to these thoughts honestly.

If she wants to distribute campaign stuff online, there are other venues than polluting her own journalism blog. Olyblog is always a good option, as is OlyForums, and the local twitter community. Janine could also add a specific campaign blog to her current website and avoid all conflict.

In the end, I hope Janine continues her good work, just with stonger fences between her roles.


Karan said...

I agree with you 100%

Elaine said...

It's a good point; I saw her blog recently and wondered about the boundary between "campaigner" and "journalist" as well.

If it were me (heaven forfend!), I'd add a blog to the campaign site and then stop blogging about politics on the journalism site. Or even suspend the latter until after the campaign.

"It's a small town and we all wear several hats."

True enough! IMHO that makes it critical to know when the hats are conflicting, and to separate roles when it's appropriate. (Am I an employee, a Friend of the Library, an Eastside N'hood Assoc member, a blogger, etc., etc.?)

Funny enough, Janine doorbelled our house on Saturday. I think it's the first time I've met her, although she seemed to know Chad. Very friendly! :)