The Olympics reporter for the Vancouver Sun was paid to write for the the official magazine of the International Olympics Committee, reported the online magazine The Tyee. “Jeff Lee says his editors cleared him to take freelance job, can’t recall fee,” noted the Tyee‘s sub-head.
reporter Andrew MacLeod interviewed Lee, and quoted him saying he was
paid by an independent company hired by the IOC to produce the Olympic Review. Lee also told MacLeod: ‘”I’m being paid for it, sure. I’m freelancing,” said Lee. “I would hope nobody at the Tyee would suggest I’ve given them a free ride or this is a conflict.”‘
MacLeod quoted Lee calling the Tyee investigation “mischief making,”an “attack story,” and “thin stuff:”
“”The Tyee looking at his work for Olympic Review
would be a “cheap shot,” Lee predicted. “I know what’s going to come
out of it will probably be an attack story on me,” he said. “I think
this is just mischief making. It’s in the grand tradition of journalism
to go mischief making, but people will see this is pretty thin stuff.”
quoted an independent Olympic writer’s opinion that Lee’s freelancing
for an IOC publication is a conflict of interest only if it is not
disclosed to readers of the Vancouver Sun.
Kudos to the Tyee
for reporting on the issue of a journalist being hired to freelance,
even indirectly, by the same organization he is assigned to cover —
journalism issues are critical enough in public life that they deserve
far more scrutiny than they usually receive. Still, I find myself
squirming on Lee’s behalf, because he’s just one reporter and, frankly,
most of the media industry deserves scrutiny.
When citizens in
B.C. look for credible mainstream media sources on Olympics news, free
real or perceived conflict of interest, there is no choice at all among
the four Canadian print dailies available in Vancouver, and little
choice among commercial broadcasters. As the Tyee notes, Lee’s employer, the Vancouver Sun, is owned by Canwest, listed on the Olympics’ web site as an official print media supplier. (Canwest owns the Sun, the Province and the National Post — that is, three of the four mainstream Canadian dailies available in Vancouver. The fourth daily in the city is The Globe and Mail — and it, too, is an official print media supplier to the Vancouver 2010 games (along with La Presse).
Canwest owns Global and its major-market television stations in
Vancouver and Victoria. The Globe is owned by the same company that
As near as I can tell the only media outlets that are
reporting on the Olympics but which are NOT affiliated with the games
are the CBC, news services (not including Canwest’s own news service),
smaller commercial players, some “ethnic” media and some alternative
media like the Tyee.