A bit of weirdness in this morning’s Pioneer Press print version.
Reporter Dennis Lien did a front-page feature on U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s “anti-American” controversy. Lien didn’t speak to Bachmann, making do with quotes from Bachmann’s communications director Michele Marston.
Lien’s longish story jumped to page 4A — where it shared the page with a story bearing this headline: “Bachmann fires back.”
Byline? Michele Bachmann.
Turns out D.C. political site Politico — to whom the PiPress has outsourced D.C. coverage — let the congresswoman write her own piece alleging “lies” from “liberal special interests.”
In other words, the PiPress placed a Bachmann op-ed in their news pages — next to a story in which she wasn’t made available for questions.
All over town, (non-fluorescent) light bulbs must be brightening above campaign managers’ heads: Don’t make your boss available, but do call D.C. for that unfettered pipeline into the news pages.
To be fair, Bachmann’s piece has the tiny “Comment” flag above the headline. But that’s the smallest of fig leaves. Her piece should’ve run with the PiPress editorials, and news editor Thom Fladung needs to make sure that reportorial journalism and self-serving puffery remain clearly separated.