WaPo faces criticism after printing story from outside source

On Dec. 31, The Washington Post published a news article produced by The Fiscal Times, a Washington-based news start-up that covers the federal budget and deficit-related issues.

According to a New York Times article titled “Sourcing of article awkward for paper,” the financing for The Fiscal Times was from Peter G. Peterson, a billionaire investment banker who advocates deficit reduction and reining in social spending and the main expert quoted in the article published by the Post is from a coalition co-founded by Peterson.

The Times report explains:

The Post published a correction on Tuesday [registration required for links], saying that the article should have explained the connections to Mr. Peterson, but the correction did not address the propriety of the paper’s relationship with The Fiscal Times. Andrew Alexander, The Post’s ombudsman, said Tuesday that he was looking into that question. ‘We wouldn’t put anything in the paper that we didn’t believe was independent journalism,’ said Marcus W. Brauchli, executive editor of The Post. ‘We had complete editorial control. Our editors conceived of the story. We asked if The Fiscal Times was interested in producing the story. We edited the story.'”

The Times article also points out that “several news organizations that have sprung up in recent years, including Politico and ProPublica, also have a dominant backer and supply material to established newspapers. (The New York Times has published articles by ProPublica.)”

Previous J-Source columns have addressed the issue of influence in funded journalism here, here and here.