Sunday, January 31, 2010

farmdoc's blog post number 651

Conflict of interest [CoI]. It’s a topic I feel strongly about. I’ve long thought every person in a role of power/authority has a responsibility to avoid every single CoI situation. Or at least to declare the CoI to those who could be affected by its existence. But increasingly neither happens. And, worse, the public seems inured to it – to the detriment of society’s integrity and fairness. I think this tolerance of CoI stems from the media’s blasé acceptance of it. For example, last Friday the Age ran this article. Titled ‘Apple iPad a threat to publishers: Bob Carr’, its first words are: ‘Former NSW Premier Bob Carr says…’. Not until the end of the fourth paragraph is it revealed that Carr’s a board member of the bookselling chain Dymocks. Dymocks is not a disinterested party in relation to parallel book imports, and also electronic book readers including the iPad. Carr’s contribution to the Age piece is clearly as a Dymocks director and not an ex NSW Premier. Thus it’s a classic CoI because he’s exploiting his official capacity for his unrelated corporate and thus personal benefit. (Or the Age did it for him.) To put the article into perspective, and so to be fair and honest to its readers, the Age needed to mention Carr’s Dymocks directorship in the item’s headline; or if not then in its first few words. The fourth paragraph’s not nearly good enough. And the caption of the article’s photograph is similarly misleading. By any measure.

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