The anti-St. George group Better Together called out WBRZ reporter Chris Nakamoto for what they are characterizing as a breach of journalism ethics because he signed the St. George petition while continuing to report on the issue.
” Last night, WBRZ reporter Chris Nakamoto ran another in a long line of inaccurate stories on St. George. That makes it time that WBRZ dealt with an issue they should have addressed a long time ago — a matter of basic journalistic ethics,” Better Together wrote on its website.
One of the stories the group claimed was inaccurate involved what Nakamoto described as a cheating scandal in the East Baton Rouge parish School system, an account that was widely circulated by St. George leaders during their campaign. On Tuesday evening, he had a story that reviewed arguments by St. George leaders who have filed a lawsuit to overturn the Registrar of Voter’s determination that the petition was short of signatures to hold an election to create a city.
Nakamoto issued the following statement to The Advocate:
“As a property owner in the area that may have been affected by the petition, I believed when I signed it then and believe now that the greatest thing in our democracy is to allow people to decide. People should get the facts and be allowed to vote if the petition succeeded. That’s why I signed it. News management was aware and insisted on several things: I’ve never contributed any volunteer time, money or signage to the St. George issue. Any stories, whether by me or others at WBRZ, are always reviewed by news managers. I am confident that we have consistently reported both sides of the issue in a fair and balanced manner.The incorporation drive was not about me and shouldn’t be.”
Nakamoto and his wife signed the petition on Oct. 27th, 2013, early in the signature gathering process.
Better Together cites the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics that says journalists should avoid political involvement, conflicts of interest and to remain free of associations that that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.