On Wednesday, Feb. 10, The Tennessean published an article titled “UT official says Haslam outsourcing plan 'would be a disaster.'”
The primary source for their article, Vice Chancellor for Facilities Services Dave Irvin, conducted an interview with UT students who were writing a column for The Daily Beacon, and those students shared their transcription of Irvin's interview with The Tennessean. One of those students was also an employee of The Daily Beacon.
Although students who work at the Daily Beacon are encouraged to be as politically and socially engaged as they desire, they are not permitted to do so as representatives of the Beacon. Our journalistic integrity lies in our ability to remain fair and unbiased in our reporting, and when employees align themselves with the Beacon and simultaneously take a stance on a campus issue, that integrity is jeopardized.
It was not the Daily Beacon's intention to release Irvin's interview to The Tennessean, and we regret losing the trust of campus sources who may be hesitant in the future to speak with our reporters.
In an effort to prevent this unfortunate mistake from happening again and to be as transparent as possible on this issue, we are publishing a few bullets from our Code of Conduct below. Although the Code of Conduct is not new to our newsroom, we have failed to enforce it which has led to us being in this position.
Our Code of Conduct policy on Conflicts of Interest states:
While staff members are not prohibited from engaging in political, community, personal or business activity, they are not allowed to do so as representatives of the Beacon. Staff members may not report or comment on any campus activity, organization or issue in which they are directly involved. This policy also applies to off-campus issues and activities. This can help avoid any conflict of interest or the appearance, thereof.
Beacon staff members may not use departmental resources or act in an official capacity as an employee of the newspaper to influence any decision-making body of the university. This includes the improper use of departmental stationary. In addition to being a breach of ethical conduct, it is a violation of state law.
Employees may also work for other newspapers. However, these staff members are strictly forbidden from using Beacon resources, equipment, sources, stories or ideas for other news organizations, nor may they cover the same events or issues for the Beacon and another news medium. This is considered a breach of loyalty and grounds for dismissal. The Editor-in-Chief must always be informed of all staff members who work or are interns for other newspapers or student media.
These policies have been reviewed by our staff, and we hope that we have not lost your opinion or faith as a result of this error.
The Editorial Board is comprised of Jenna Butz, editor-in-chief, Bradi Musil, managing editor, Katrina Roberts, creative director, and Hannah Moulton, copy chief. They can be reached at email@example.com.