I’M CONFLICTED. On the one hand, I feel strongly that the editor of a magazine should be able to have friends, acquaintances, and organizational ties that are occasionally newsworthy. And just because the editor has newsworthy associations, the magazine should not be precluded from covering a story related to those associations in a fair, thorough, and unbiased way simply because of a presumed conflict of interest.
On the other hand, I’ve watched with great dismay the past few years as journalism’s bad apples have boosted their pals without identifying them as such, filleted their enemies without identifying them as such, profited in secret from the positive press they’ve orchestrated, or otherwise advanced an agenda different from that of serving their readers. All of which has made me a stickler for transparency, not to mention the most honorable behavior.
It’s the latter impulse that causes me to bare all to you, hopefully before you read “ The Good Book and the Bad Book”, senior editor John Spong’s piece on the tumult that has engulfed St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, in Austin, which educates the kids of so many of the Capital City’s elites. I’ll spare you the juicy details that caused us to do the story except to say that we knew immediately we had to jump on it; read it and see if you agree. But justified or not, I still have a problem, even though I don’t stand to benefit personally—the traditional definition of conflict of interest—from the decision to publish. To wit:
1. My kids attend another Episcopal school in Austin, and I serve on its board. To call the schools “rivals” would border on the ridiculous, but it’s surely the case that they compete for applicants, fund-raising dollars, and the like. There’s no doubt in my mind that some St. Andrew’s parents who believe our story casts the school in a negative light will wonder if my loyalty to my kids’ school was an