As a former journalist, it is unsettling to see that both our township’s hyperlocal news outlets, TAPintoParsippany and Parsippany Focus, are run by people who have organizational political roles.
Laura Ali, Parsippany TAPinto’s publisher and editor-in-chief, has been listed as communications director for the Morris County GOP, a position she’s held as a volunteer. She was also listed in a campaign ad as a supporter of NJ 11th congressional candidate Jay Webber, a Republican.
Frank Cahill, publisher of Parsippany Focus, is a Parsippany GOP Committee member.
These kinds of political roles and relationships are normally forbidden in journalism because they violate the principal of editorial objectivity. I understand that in today’s media landscape, where municipal coverage has suffered so much, ethical standards like these might carry less weight than they used to — especially if they make it harder for towns to have in-depth local media at all. But it’s important for readers to know about these kinds of relationships. Disclosing them would also clarify any misinformation about Ali and Cahill’s editorial and political roles and how that does or doesn’t affect coverage.
This is especially important in such a bitterly divisive political climate. No matter how objective you are, or strive to be, involvements like this create an appearance of conflict, at the very least. So I would like to see this info added to the mastheads or “about” sections of both TapInto and Focus. Readers should be aware of these things.
This letter was sent to both, Parsippany Focus and TapIntoParsippany.
Editors Note: Frank Cahill has never hidden the fact that he was elected as a Parsippany GOP Committee member. Also Parsippany Focus has given equal and fair coverage to all political parties.