Mayoral candidate stirs ethics questions

Tannis Kufner

 

Jan Moore’s campaign, citing her current employment at the Statesboro Herald as a point of concern.

Moore is one of four candidates running for mayor of Statesboro and serves as business editor for the Statesboro Herald, as well as writing a weekly column in the business section.

According to Jason Wermers, news editor of the Statesboro Herald, Moore keeps her column business-focused.

“I currently write a column every week about local business developments, what’s coming to town, or something unusual,” Moore said.

Prior to running, Moore wrote an article every week about businesses in the community as well as an opinion column. Since she began running for office she has been limited to writing strictly the weekly column.*

Reed Smith, Ph. D., communication arts professor at Georgia Southern University, describes this issue as a conflict of interest because Moore holds an unequal advantage over the other candidates.

“Having her name and face before the public, free of charge, throughout the campaign, is the issue,” Smith said. “Her opponents can only accomplish similar publicity by paying for advertising in the paper.”

According to Joe McGlamery, president of the Statesboro Herald, there are no legal limitations to Moore’s position at the Herald.

“We’re great believers of the first amendment,” McGlamery said.

McGlamery describes a column as an expression of personal opinion and does not see Moore influencing her column with political opinion.

Bill Thomas, current mayoral candidate and owner of Big Bad Wolf Catering, feels passionately about the Statesboro Herald’s bias and having a mayoral candidate write for the Herald.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in this city standing up for the things I believe are wrong,” Thomas said.

Some articles from the Statesboro Herald are politically motivated.  Moore also writes extensively about businesses that are also contributors to her own campaign, Thomas said.

“[Moore] publishes articles after stating earlier that she would not be able to write during her candidacy,” Thomas said.

Legally, the questions about Moore writing for the Statesboro Herald have been answered, but ethically there are questions being raised as to whether a public figure such as Moore should write in the local newspaper.

“Her opponents have a right to be concerned that they are being treated unequally, but it’s unlikely they can do much about the situation other than complain to the Herald management,” Smith said.

Moore has worked for the Statesboro Herald for 10 years and does not have a response to the question of whether she would work for the Herald if she became mayor at this time.

*Editor’s note: A quotation concerning Moore’s role with The Statesboro Herald has been removed due to inaccuracies. The quotation from Mr. McGlamery stated that Moore was asked to discontinue her weekly column, but in actuality Moore discontinued her reporting on business for The Herald during the mayoral race.