More feedback on my editorial page column regarding conflicts of interest:
I applaud you for asking your readers for their views. Here are my two cents.
For example 1, I think the issue is avoiding even the appearance of a conflict of interest, balanced against the opportunity for Post-Bulletin employees to fully participate in public activities as private citizens. Thus I think the best course of action would have been to identify Jeff Lansing as a P-B employee, while indicating he attended as a private citizen. Omitting his connection with the paper would only seem appropriate to me if every person who spoke at the meeting was quoted in the article. Editing out Jeff's contribution to the meeting just because he is an employee would unduly deny him full community participation.
For example 2, I agree it's appropriate for campaign spending details to be reported. Spending for ads in the local paper for a city council race should certainly be included. In fact, omitting such information would clearly raise questions of a conflict of interest, particularly when the editorial staff has endorsed one of the candidates.
Regarding No. 1, I suppose another angle on this (and this is another example of ethical extremes) is that maybe we should identify everyone's employer...for all I know, a few of the other speakers at the meeting represented real estate interests, environmental groups, etc., and had oxen to gore...
But generally, it's not practical (or I'd argue necessary) to take every story to this minute degree of reporting.
Example 2: Interesting example because when I read the discosure of Peters' spending money on printing, not advertising, at P-B and Blenker spending nothing it reminded me that P-B had endorsed Peters. Personally I do not think the two are related but it gives the appearance of a conflict of interest. If it had been advertising, I think you are obligated to print all candidates paid ads, and you cannot be blamed for reading your own paper and so would know who did and who did not add to P-B's revenue.
However, editors have no reason to know who pays to have brochures printed. Perhaps you should have a firewall between the editors and the business department so you would not know of money from candidates to ancilliary business with P-B. Why create a situation where you are suspected of favoring a condidate because of money spent at your paper?
There's a firewall in place; it's our job to persuade readers that it's real. Nonetheless, I doubt more than a few people in town believe $3,000 buys an endorsement.
You'll see another ethical issue on Page 1A Monday, related to politics. Take a look and I'll address it.