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Common Ethical Practice

A casual reader of the Sept. 14 issue of Miami Today could be excused for a bout of head-scratching. What was this? On one page, an editorial, clearly marked as such, decried a "quagmire of journalistic ethics," specifically the recent scandal over El Nuevo Herald reporters paid to moonlight as commentators on U.S. government-run Radio Marti. The editorial held out Miami Today as an exemplar of what "we would expect, would be common (ethical) practice."

On the opposite page — a page titled "Today's News" — was what looked like a short puff piece. The non-bylined story spoke glowingly of an award ceremony in which Miami Today honored homeless services provider Camillus House. One of several photos with the story featured Miami Today Publisher Michael Lewis with Camillus president and CEO Paul Ahr. "Camillus House is grateful to Miami Today... for the honor of this award..." the story concluded, without attribution. The only hint of the author's identity was the invitation to visit "our" website at www.camillus.org.

"That's an editorial," Lewis said testily when reached by phone. He pointed out that the story's presentation — within a thin-lined box and with a headline font distinct from news story headlines — made this obvious. Right.-Rob Jordan


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