Tribune donor disclosure inconsistencies

By Weston Hicks | 2 hours ago

The Texas Tribune’s inconsistent practices around disclosing donors who benefit from stories they write is becoming more noticeable. Yesterday a disclosure inconsistency landed on the Austin political radar. Additional research shows that this is not an isolated incident.

John Seago, Texas Right to Life’s Legislative Director, asked the Tribune via his Twitter account if this was the first time they had disclosed Planned Parenthood as a corporate donor. The response from the Tribune was ‘no’. That is not the whole story, however.

A search of the Tribune for the term Planned Parenthood turns up 19 articles written in 2014 mentioning the abortion outfit. Before yesterday none of the articles included disclosures at publication that Planned Parenthood had been a corporate sponsor of the Tribune.

In addition to Planned Parenthood’s past sponsorship, Cecilia Guthrie Boone is a major Tribune contributor. Guthrie Boone is a major contributor to Planned Parenthood, too, this year dumping $1,000,000 into the group’s political committee. Guthrie Boone is also a past member of Planned Parenthood’s national board.

Ten posts have been updated with the disclosure post-publication. Of those articles, 6 have an editor’s note that the post has been updated. The other 4 articles have been updated but do not bear an editor’s note alerting readers to the change.

There are eight posts lacking disclosure that mention Planned Parenthood, and many others that include the word “abortion”.

Many of the Tribune’s disclosure failures occur in articles written in partnership with Kaiser Health News, and almost 70 percent of Planned Parenthood related articles have been written under this partnership umbrella.

According to Tribune Editor Emily Ramshaw, the Tribune’s policy is to “put a disclosure on every story before it publishes.” The Tribune has not accomplished this in abortion their articles.

The Tribune streamed the 2014 anniversary celebration rally of Wendy Davis’ pro-abortion filibuster. The filibuster was Davis’ coming-out party, one that the Tribune enabled. The anniversary was promoted by the Tribune, including another livestream. The event also featured Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood. Despite this extensive coverage and valuable earned media for Davis and Planned Parenthood, the Tribune offered no donor disclosure.

Ahead of the Tribune’s recent Wallace Hall interview, we wrote about the heavy financing the Tribune receives from the University of Texas and their sharply anti-Hall coverage of Hall’s struggles to root out corruption at the university.

A reputation as a ‘newspaper for hire’ is something the Tribune wants to avoid. Inconsistencies in their donor disclosures won’t help.