How do you respond if your publisher demands preferential business news treatment for a personal friend or large advertiser?
The circumstances are admittedly challenging. In reality, you may have to accept – grudgingly – that the publisher wins. That said, you need to have the conversation and present the strongest argument that fair and responsible coverage is at the heart of the newspaper’s credibility. That applies to business news as well as to any other coverage area. It may be even more important in business news because of the perception that “dollars speak” and impact news decisions.
Be aware that news travels. This may prompt similar requests. How do you defend saying “yes” to one person and “no” to another? Haphazard policies – double standards – are worse than no policies at all.
Also, be aware of the “what” vs. “whom” when it comes to other news coverage. I’ve seen major advertisers press for something to be kept out of the police log. I’ve seen publishers ask for a story that would not be done under the normal filter of what is news and what isn’t news.