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WAMU News Director Says Reporters Crossed The Line


In a City that defines who you are by the company you keep, it appears WAMU News Director Jim Asendio just couldn't take it anymore. Asendio quit yesterday, telling the Washington Post he resigned because his reporters were getting together with donors to the station. Asendio believes there should be a wall between reporters and those that contribute money to the station. And when he found out reporters were scheduled to attend an event this week to rub elbows with the donors, he walked.

“When it comes to crossing the firewall, that’s where I draw the line. That questions our credibility and trustworthiness,” Asendio told the Post. The paper  writers, "Asendio signaled that he would not attend the event. He says that he then received an e-mail from WAMU General Manager Caryn Mathes. Asendio recounts the wording of the e-mail: “My refusal to attend a major station event would send an irreversible and permanent statement on whether I was a member of our team.” Strong message right there. “So, seeing the handwriting on the wall and not wanting to get into any kind of job difficulty, I felt it best to stand on my journalistic ethics and resign.”

Read more HERE at the Washington Post

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- NY
(3/1/2012 11:12:28 AM)
I'm re-reading this again and I applaud my colleagues who stand with the WAMU news director. I'm a DC area resident and WAMU listener and supporter. This lack of respect for journalistic integrity floors me and especially at a time with public radio has endured a great many gaffs of late. It's thrilling to see so many in the biz who understand the separation between sales and news/editorial.

- Robert Jenkins
(2/23/2012 9:51:56 AM)
It's a shame more broadcasters don't share this man's integrity. For those who believe that because privately owned newspapers have in the past been biased, that it's no big deal for a public broadcaster to do the same, can you please answer me this: What public interest is served in promoting the agenda of one side over that of the other? Can we not merely report and let the public make up their own minds? Shall we harken back to historical models for other things like equal rights and other social issues? As relates to news I support the "Joe Friday" approach, "Just the facts, Ma'am." If you've ever been a reporter you can understand that it's harder to do your job if the subject of a story is someone you know, or worse, a friend. That's why the "wall" is not an intellectually snobbish thing, but a professional attribute. Send the sales types to the darn party and lay off the reporters-pick up their tab at the local watering hole instead.

- R Lamb
(2/23/2012 7:46:23 AM)
A major opportunity for WAMU reporters to network with the DC business community--and the News Director refuses to allow his staff to attend? It's always been ridiculous to me how so-called "journalists" want to cloister themselves away (in the name of "journalistic integrity") yet claim they have the education/knowledge to report the news to the rest of us.

Journalism historically has been one-sided (a Democrat paper and a Republican paper in most cities at least until the advent of Broadcast TV news). The history of journalism points to something other than "lack of bias" for journalists.

I posit that consumption of traditional news media is down in part because the media is based on the lie of Objectivity.

- Jeff Andrulonis

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