How can Bloomberg L.P. do better this time around? Here’s a modest proposal: emulate the Dorchester Reporter, a weekly neighborhood newspaper in Boston. In 2004, Linda Dorcena Forry — wife of Reporter editor Bill Forry and daughter-in-law of publisher Ed Forry — ran for a Massachusetts House seat in a district that included the Reporter’s distribution area. In response, the Reporter took several steps aimed at guaranteeing fair coverage of the race. Most notably, the paper hired an external ombudsman; the Forrys also announced, in the newspaper, that they would not write about, editorialize on, or supervise coverage of the race.
The parallel may not be perfect, but it’s useful. If Bloomberg L.P. acknowledges its awkward position, hires an ombudsman or two to monitor coverage of potential-candidate Bloomberg in the coming months (hey, ex–New York Times public editor Byron Calame might be looking for work), and offers the public a reasonably detailed explanation of how it plans to proceed, it’ll be doing itself and the public a favor. Objectivity doesn’t just happen — not even in the house that Mike built.
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