Baltimore TV news anchor Kate Amara e-mailed her local county council about a school redistricting issue emphasizing her position as a journalist more than once and including her newsroom station contact information. Was that crossing the line?
Her general manager Dan Joerres says so. In a statement to the Baltimore Sun, Joerres said, “Upon reflection as a journalist, Kate acknowledges her actions in the matter were inappropriate. She will not be reporting on this story or any related stories.”
“Her email is a case study in failing to be clear about who is writing to the public officials — the parent or the journalist. This is a matter of fundamental journalistic ethics, and there is no excuse for someone with Amara’s experience writing in a way that leaves her open to the charge of trying to use her position as a journalist to gain special favor,” the Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik argued. “And there is no doubt from her words that she is nowhere near the journalistic ideal of impartial when it comes to this particular political subject. Not only does that hurt her credibility, it can damage the credibility of WBAL.”
MediEthics has written to Joerres and Amara.
Her e-mail introduced her as “the lead political reporter at WBAL-TV in Baltimore,” but not emailing in that capacity today.” She added later on, “please answer the following questions for this howard county mom. . . who knows what to ask, and who to ask it of, because she happens to be a journalist.”
Baltimore Fishbowl, a media news site, quoted Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Journalism Ethics director Kathleen Culver asking ““The question is, why raise it in the first place? Why have references to being a journalist if that’s not why you’re reaching out to them?”