The online publication El Paso Matters was launched in February by former El Paso Times editor, Bob Moore. According to the Matters website, it holds itself to the “standards of editorial independence by the Institute for Nonprofit News.” The Institute for Nonprofit News asks that its members separate the decision to report on news items from its fundraising efforts. Basically, the decision to report on a news event is based on the publication’s internal editorial deliberations and not on any funding the publisher has received. Bob Moore states that he adheres to that requirement on his website.
Earlier today, the El Paso Politics received a link to an online fundraiser that El Paso Matters is currently using to raise funds.
As of 1:00 p.m., El Paso time, the El Paso Matters effort have raised $12,325.
Carlos Gallinar Donates
As readers are aware, Carlos Gallinar is running for mayor in tomorrow’s election. Gallinar is listed on the website as donating $250 to Bob Moore.
Is The Gallinar Donation Appropriate?
Understanding that the news media is expected to keep its reporting from being influenced by people buying advertising or donating to a news non-profit, the question that requires an answer is whether Carlos Gallinar is seeking to influence the reporting on him or his opponents by Bob Moore and El Paso Matters.
The El Paso Politics performed a search for Carlos Gallinar on Bob Moore’s publication using the El Paso Matters search function. The results showed six articles with Gallinar in them.
The first article from June 21, 2020, is a guest editorial by Samuel Licón Kligman. In his editorial, Kligman discusses racism. Although the editorial makes no mention of Carlos Gallinar, it does include a picture of Gallinar labeled, “El Paso mayoral candidate Carlos Gallinar talks with Samuel Licón Kligman, one of the organizers of a June 12 student-led protest in support of Black Lives Matter.”
The article made no other mention of any other mayoral candidate.
The second article, El Paso police chief, state GOP chairman pose in group photo without masks or social distancing, by Bob Moore was published on August 1. The article reports on a Facebook picture showing El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen “gathered close together and without face coverings.”
The Bob Moore article used tweets from Veronica Escobar and mayoral candidates Carlos Gallinar and Veronica Carbajal criticizing the lack of face coverings in the Facebook photograph.
Three articles on September 29, October 6 and October 12 are contrasts for most of the mayoral candidates.
However, the August 9 article is an editorial written by Carlos Gallinar explaining why he is running as a Democrat in a non-partisan race.
The El Paso Politics searched for Veronica Carbajal, Oscar Leeser and Dee Margo using Bob Moore’s search function.
The Dee Margo search showed 33 articles mainly about Covid-19 and the City’s response to it. Margo is the incumbent mayor. One article on October 28 is about the use of the term, “Gestapo-like tactics,” used by Margo during a heated discussion with Peter Svarzbein. Svarzbein lost his grandmother to the Holocaust.
The Oscar Leeser search revealed six articles. Three articles are the ones listed above about the candidates in the mayoral race. Two articles are question and answers for District 2 and District 3 candidates. Each of those articles mentions Leeser as a response to a question.
The final article from October 26 investigates why young voters may be making a difference in this election. Grace Zhoa, 18-years-old, told the publication that she voted for Carbajal. Another voter, 24-year-old Sebastian Quiñones told the publication he would not vote for Dee Margo. And, Richie Davis, 19-year-old, told El Paso Matters in that article that he voted for Oscar Leeser.
None of our El Paso Matters searches resulted in a mayoral candidate’s profile like the one for Carlos Gallinar in the August 9 editorial.
Is It Ethical?
The Institute for Nonprofit News, under the section on Ethics & Practices Policy, on its website suggests having a section in the disclosure financial statement about Donor & Financial Transparency. The Institute recommends that publications such as El Paso Matters have the following:
“We make public all revenue sources and donor who give $5,000 or more per years.” The Institute suggests adding, “As a news nonprofit, we avoid accepting charitable donations from anonymous sources, government entities, political parties, elected officials or candidates seeking public office.”
Carlos Gallinar is a candidate for mayor. The election is tomorrow and he recently made a $250 donation to El Paso Matters.
The institute clearly states that accepting donations from “elected officials or candidates seeking public office” should avoided. In other words, it is unethical.
In addition, readers will note several anonymous donations made to El Paso Matters in the current fundraising effort. The Institute also discourages anonymous funding.
Bob Moore Responds
The El Paso Politics asked Bob Moore for comment about the Gallinar donation in his capacity as owner and editor of El Paso Matters. We also asked if he had accepted other donations from the candidate.
Bob Moore responded via email:
“I did see the contribution. I appreciate the contributions from everyone who are supporting nonprofit journalism in El Paso. I encourage people to use the #NewsMatch period to support El Paso Matters and double their support. Contributions do not influence our editorial judgment.”
Moore added, “I would add that political candidates are advertising on local media. Those expenditures don’t and shouldn’t influence editorial decisions.”
Categories: El Paso