Thursday, July 23, 2009

Leslie Boyd

Asheville Citizen-Times reporter Leslie Boyd has violated the code of journalistic ethics by participating in partisan political events as an advocate while also covering the story for her employer. Boyd is pictured on the WNC for Change website as the keynote speaker at the recent Healthcare Reform Rally held at Pritchard Park in Asheville on June 20, 2009.

Leslie Boyle featured on the WNC for Change website:

The AC-T points to the ethics violation themselves:
Pushing the issue into everyday conversations
John Boyle | AC-T | June 30, 2009

"Boyd, the keynote speaker at Saturday's rally, is also a reporter at the Citizen-Times."

Boyd is credited by the AC-T in their published photo album of the rally as the photographer for the event.

Boyd is also mentioned in an email from left-wing political action group
The following is a message from the host of R.E.A.L. Action for a Public Option, the REAL Public Option Day of Action that you signed up to attend

Hi! Thanks for registering for the R.E.A.L. Action for a Public Option. Among the speakers scheduled so far are Leslie Boyd, a reporter for the Asheville Citizen-Times whose son was uninsured and didn't receive a routine test that might have saved his life; and John Kelly, a family-practice physician who has an insightful view of the health care system and how it affects his patients.

I look forward to seeing you at 356 Biltmore Ave. in Asheville on Thursday, July 23, at 5:30!


The website clearly states that it is a partisan political organization:
Ground rules Political Action is a political organization and our events are considered partisan under the law. Non-partisan not-for-profit organizations such as schools, churches and libraries should not use staff time or resources to organize events with Political Action.

Gannett Ethics Policy states:
Journalists should:
  • Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
  • Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
  • Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.

The Society of Professional Journalists states in their Code of Ethics:
Act Independently

Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.

Journalists should:
  • Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
  • Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.

The New York Times Code of Ethics states:
Journalists do not take part in politics. While staff members are entitled to vote and to register in party primaries, they must do nothing that might raise questions about their professional neutrality or that of our news operations. In particular, they may not campaign for, demonstrate for, or endorse candidates, ballot causes or efforts to enact legislation. They may not wear campaign buttons or themselves display any other insignia of partisan politics.

Ms. Boyd is a political activist and she is using the tragic story of her son’s disease and death to market her ideological agenda. I was at the rally where she spoke and heard her maudlin speech. She and others are using the fallacious ‘appeal to pity’ to advance socialistic public policy. WNC for Change is quite happy with that approach. They use it on their website. They see Boyd as an asset in their cause. I expect Mr. Hammer sees her as an asset as well.

Shame on her. Shame on the Citizen-Times.

**UPDATE** July 23, 2009

Leslie Boyd was unable to make it to the rally at Heath Shuler's office. The reason given was that "something came up at the last minute." Rally Photos:

**UPDATE** July 30, 2009

AC-T ducks questions about ethics violations. Meeting cancelled.


A Lesson in Journalistic Ethics
Erika Franzi | July 23, 2009
I contacted the President and Publisher of the AC-T, Mr. Randy Hammer with my concerns. Mr. Hammer, it seems, is not quite as concerned as I am. He has offered to meet with me next week and has made no comment about the ethics violations, past or pending.

Socialized Healthcare
Tim Peck | July 17, 2009
Erika Franzi at a protest of socialized healthcare at Representative Heath Shuler's office in Asheville on July 17th.

Boyd in Hot Water
Jason Sanford | Ashevegas | July 26, 2009
Political bloggers Timothy Peck and ThunderPig, as well as Asheville Tea Party organizer Erika Franzi, blew the whistle on Asheville Citizen-Times reporter Leslie Boyd at the end of last week for an alleged ethics violation. That whistle's turned into a screaming siren of attention.