Tribune publishing chief Scott Smith sent out a reminder today that the company ethics code "applies to all Tribune editorial personnel—print, broadcast and interactive." They got it at the Times, according to Scott Collins at the paper's Channel Island blog, who presumes the rules will mean big changes at KTLA in the wake of reporting on freebies for morning news anchor Michaela Pereira and for other on-air talent from the Ritz-Carlton.
"The Code applies to all Tribune editorial personnel—print, broadcast and interactive—and embodies the journalistic values and professional standards we believe are essential to our success ... As you know, there have been a series of ethical lapses across news organizations, including several of ours, that have undermined our credibility in the public’s eyes. Therefore, it is essential that we remain vigilant and exacting in achieving high standards. The Code has been edited from the original version created about three years ago to more clearly address these standards. It has been reviewed and approved by each business unit CEO and editor...."
The new Tribune policy says editorial employees "should not have membership in, any financial relationship with, or other ties to a business or institution if they have regular and continuing influence over any aspect of coverage of that organization." It also bars employees from contributing to or being a member of virtually any political organization, and forbids them from attending junkets.
Skeptics will note that the ethics policy doesn't lay out a specific procedure for addressing violations or complaints. Nor does it appear to be retroactive, so it's unlikely anyone involved in the recent extreme makeover of Pereira's Pasadena home will face sanctions. That incident appeared to violate the existing ethics provisions at Tribune in nearly every conceivable way, and nothing seemed to happen.
Collins says he has queried Channel 5 brass for comment.