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Our Opinion: No place for union bias

November 14, 2006 9:59 AM

A new Measure D sales tax hike failed last Tuesday for a variety of reasons:

It was a tax increase, it would have lasted too long (until 2040), it would have paid for projects that lacked voter support and it didn't contain guarantees that the government would spend the money properly.

The pro-Measure D force also relied on questionable tactics that people responded to negatively once they learned the background.

The Yes on Measure D committee -- without permission -- used the News-Press' nameplate, photos and story for a slick brochure. We think this gave the impression that the newspaper was backing this tax. It did not, as we explained to readers.

Also of concern was a comment by the committee's consultant that the company chose to use one article because "it really captures a particular point of view that we believe the voters should know about."

We worry this comment could have led some to think that the News-Press was slanted or biased in favor of this tax hike.

Reporting must be straightforward; a goal the News-Press management strives for at all times.

During the past election, another challenge was to make sure that readers didn't perceive a pro-union bias in some stories about candidates backed by particular unions.

A vote of 33 people this fall could mean the Teamsters organization might represent certain reporters and copy editors. But please remember that at least half that number of our journalists voted against this labor group, or didn't cast a ballot, or were ineligible to vote because their positions were excluded.

Still, we're troubled if or when readers or candidates say they believe they detect pro-union bias in election or other stories.

We told you last week about a troubling case from late September in which a Teamsters local chapter in New York representing journalists gave money to politicians on Long Island.

The newspaper Newsday reported: "The union that represents Newsday reporters made campaign contributions to high-ranking Suffolk politicians and political fund-raising committees on at least six occasions this year -- a move that editors and staff now fear could call into question how the paper covers the news."

This was a breach of public trust. How will the community see that newspaper's journalists as impartial after this lapse in judgment?

The News-Press is determined that such bias doesn't appear in this newspaper.

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