Bozeman Daily Chronicle Didn't Disclose Reporter Worked for Greg Mortenson Charity

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Karin Ronnow recently left her position at Bozeman Daily Chronicle. She also is involved with the Central Asia Institute. (Credit:

Karin Ronnow left the Bozeman Daily Chronicle earlier this month “after it became widely known that she also wrote an annual publication for the Central Asia Institute, Greg Mortenson’s charity,” the Oregonian reported. But, Ronnow “covered Mortenson’s activities for the paper while writing for the institute.”

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, a Montana daily newspaper, has a circulation approx. 18,000 and is owned by the Pioneer newspaper chain, according to the Mondo Times.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle disclosed her leaving the paper in a May 15 article. Poynter’s Jim Romenesko reported that the newspaper’s managing editor Nick Ehli told him Ronnow’s role with the CAI was “never a secret.”  Ehli reportedly added that Ronnow’s leaving the newspaper “was related to her work with CAI ‘in a roundabout way, I guess.'”

iMediaEthics looked through several of Ronnow’s articles on Mortenson and Central Asia Institute to see how and if the Daily Chronicle disclosed her relationship to Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute.  From the sample of articles we examined, we noted no disclosure at all.

In her March 12 column, for example, Ronnow mentions visiting CAI schools in Afghanistan and comments on Greg Mortenson, but doesn’t disclose her relationship to CAI.   She also doesn’t disclose any relationship to CAI or Mortenson in this Dec. 2010 article about a Mortenson book signing. That article mentions that “free copies” of the Journey of Hope will be at the signing.

And there’s also no disclosure in this August 2010 article by Ronnow about Mortenson’s upcoming TV appearances or this October 2010 article datelined from Norway about Mortenson’s “homecoming” and visit to Norway.

Central Asia Institute’s website notes that Ronnow has “been closely affiliated” with CAI “for several years” and lectures about the group about “one dozen” times a year.

iMediaEthics has written to Bozeman Daily Chroncle to ask why it didn’t disclose Ronnow’s involvement with CAI.  We also wrote to Ronnow to see when she first started working with CAI. We will update with any response.

CAI on Mortenson

In late April, the Central Asia Institute responded to “media misinformation about Greg Mortenson and CAI.”  In the statement, CAI asserted that its work will continue and that it has created or backed 170 or more schools.

“Donor funds are being properly spent on the education mission of the charity, which includes building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan and educating the American and international public about the importance of education to build a lasting peace,” the institute stated.

Climbing Partner Disputes 60 Minutes, Krakauer Reports

In late April, Mortenson’s “climbing partner,” Scott Darsney countered 60 Minutes’ report and Jon Krakaeur’s report. Darsney, who was in Nepal when 60 Minutes aired, “questions two factual points attributed to him in Three Cups of Deceit, Jon Krakauer’s lengthy indictment of Mortenson,” according to Outside magazine. Darsney is quoted as saying:

“If Jon Krakauer and some of Greg’s detractors had taken the time to have three or more cups of tea with Greg and others–instead of one cup of tea with a select few who would discredit him–they would have found some minor problems and transgressions. But to the extent to call it all ‘lies’ and ‘fraud’?”

Darsney also claims either he had “misspoken or Krakauer misheard” because he rejects Krakauer’s reporting that he claimed Mortenson hadn’t been “to the Himalaya or Karakoram before going to K2.”

Outside Editor Questions Mortenson

Outside editor Alex Heard, who interviewed Greg Mortenson, commented to Business Insider about his interview with Mortenson:

“I felt like I was talking with someone who was trying to figure out what his defense was without going back any farther than he had to,” Heard is quoted as saying.  Heard added that during the interview Mortenson’s response to questions about the Korphe incident “kind of evolved, and I have to wonder if that’s going to keep evolving and ultimately we’re going to find out that Krakauer is right and he never was there at all that first time. I don’t know.”

See StinkyJournalism’s other reports on the accusations against Greg Mortenson and Three Cups of Tea here.

As StinkyJournalism has reported, Mansur Khan Mahsud, one of the men pictured and alleged in Three Cups of Tea to have kidnapped Mortenson, denies those claims and accused Mortenson of defaming him. He told the Guardian that he “has decided to file a lawsuit against Mortenson” and that he didn’t know of the kidnapping accusations until Jon Krakauer located him and told him.

Mansur Mahsud

Mansur Mahsud has stated about Mortenson’s book:

“His chapter about Waziristan in his book Three Cups of Tea is nothing but lies from A to Z. Not a word of this is true. He has defamed and slandered my family and tribe by calling us kidnappers. This has made me very angry.”

Mahsud reportedly provided pictures of Mortenson not as “a frightened, kidnapped man, but a very happy one,” and claimed that Mortenson was “treated…very well.” Also, according to Mahsud, the Taliban wasn’t in that area until “late 2001.”

Mahsud also claimed there are other errors in Mortenson’s book, citing Mortenson’s reported phone call from the village to his wife.  According to Mahsud, the village had no phones of any sort in the village at that time.  Mahsud reportedly alleged that Mortenson’s “motive for … slandering” was to make money off book sales.

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Bozeman Daily Chronicle Didn’t Disclose Reporter Karin Ronnow Worked for Greg Mortenson Charity

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2 Responses

  1. Susan Hale Whitmore says:

    Thank you for taking on this particular aspect of the "CAI vs. the media" kerfuffle. While I believe both that the institute and its founder are innocent of most allegations and will be proven so, I want ALL of the evidence to be identified and published.

    There is no better proof of innocence than complete investigation.

    And no matter what the result of YOUR investigation into this one slice of the pie, it is valuable.

  2. Sydney Smith says:

    Thanks for reading and for your comment!

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