To stay informed on the latest news about issues important to National Motorists Association members, we keep tabs on multiple news sources around the country. Because of our strong opposition to red light ticket cameras, we monitor news on this topic very thoroughly.
Over the past couple years, we’ve noticed a suspicious number of ticket camera editorials by the Orlando Sentinel. After looking more closely, we noticed that nearly every editorial in the Sentinel was strongly in favor of installing ticket cameras. Furthermore, we noticed that nearly every pro-camera article was written by one member of the Sentinel’s Editorial Board, George Diaz.
This seemed odd, so we decided to look into it further.
After some quick research, we discovered that George Diaz appeared at a symposium held by The National Campaign To Stop Red Light Running in late 2007.
As we covered on this blog previously, the organization is simply a front for corporate special interests — specifically the red light camera industry. It is directly funded by RedFlex, Affiliated Computer Systems (ACS), and Gatso — all red light ticket camera vendors.
This corporate special interest group even describes Mr. Diaz as “the paper’s point man on editorials pushing for red light camera legislation in Florida”.
At the symposium, George Diaz moderated a panel — “Legislative Advocacy — Answering Critics” — which was intended to promote ways to shut down criticism of red light ticket cameras.
Regardless of whether or not you support ticket cameras, this is a clear breach of the Orlando Sentinel’s Editorial Code of Ethics:
“Editorial staffers should not have membership in, any financial relationship with, or other ties to a business or institution if they have regular and continuing influence over any aspect of coverage of the organization. They should avoid situations in which their activities in connection with any group or cause could be perceived as influencing what the Sentinel publishes or broadcasts.”
“When conflicts of interest are unavoidable but not obvious to readers, they should be disclosed in the story.”
The next time you read an article from the Orlando Sentinel, keep this situation in mind.