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Sun., Nov. 17, 2013, midnight

Disclose S-R’s conflicts

Ethics matter, including for newspapers. Twice in the last week The Spokesman-Review reported and editorialized on issues relating to water quality without acknowledging its relationship to Inland Empire Paper Company. The Spokesman-Review and Inland Empire Paper are both owned by the Cowles Company.

Inland Empire Paper actively discharges polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to the Spokane River, one of Washington’s most polluted rivers. PCBs are toxic chemicals that accumulate in fish tissue and threaten the health of people who eat fish. Inland Empire Paper’s pollution permit is based on water quality standards derived from fish consumption data.

Inland Empire Paper teamed with Boeing to persuade the governor’s office to postpone changes to water quality standards based on fish consumption rates. (Robert McClure, “Water pollution limits stalled: Boeing, others, challenge state on tighter rules,” The Spokesman-Review, March 30, 2013)

Every time The Spokesman (aka Cowles Co.) reports on pollution standards, or opines that those standards should be relaxed, the paper should acknowledge that it has a direct economic interest in the issue.

Rather than serving as a blinking light of journalistic ethics, The Spokesman-Review should commit to consistently report its corporate conflicts relating to water pollution.

Rachael Osborn


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