By: Ellen Liburt
Apparent conflict of interest costs free-lancing sportswriter a gig
After severing its relationship with Dave Spadaro, a sportswriter who had long free-lanced for The Associated Press and is now a full-time employee of the Philadelphia Eagles football team, the AP has reviewed its entire Pennsylvania operation in search of other situations that “blurred the line,” said Jack Stokes, an AP spokesman.
The scramble began Feb. 8 when The Philadelphia Inquirer’s sports editor, Timothy Dwyer, called AP’s New York management to let them know that an Inquirer reporter had spoken with their Philly sportswriter for a story on the blurring lines between media.
Going on information from his reporter, Dwyer also asked about an AP Eagles story without a byline that had appeared in his paper that day. Receiving confirmation that Spadaro had written it, Dwyer told the service: “As a sports editor, I’m uncomfortable with this, and I would like to see it end.”
AP Pennsylvania Bureau Chief Linda Stowell, who was unaware of the situation, investigated it and was quoted in the Inquirer’s Feb. 9 “blurred lines” story as saying, “This is a clear conflict of interest.”
“It never really came up,” said Spadaro, who became an employee of the Eagles franchise in 1994, when it bought Eagles Digest, a weekly paper he served as editor. Spadaro, 35, said that although he understands the principle, he doesn’t believe there was a conflict of interest because he never wrote hard news for the AP and had no hidden agenda. “In my fondest wishes,” said Spadaro, “I wish [the AP] would reconsider the policy and just judge [my case] on the content. They had people looking at the stories — if there was ever a thing to cause suspicion, then call me on the carpet. But there wasn’t.”