You are editor: Taking sides at a concert

Some years ago, several journalists at the Pioneer Press got into trouble for attending a Bruce Springsteen concert. Two investigative reporters were suspended by the management of the newspaper because the concert was a political fundraiser. The Star Tribune had also previously warned its reporters about attending an event that involved taking sides.

That was 2004. Why is the memory bank churning?

Because of this note on the Star Tribune’s union website

Here’s a link with information about the gala concert slated for THURSDAY, Oct. 18 by locked-out union members of the Minnesota Orchestra. Attend the concert and support your brothers and sisters in the labor movement.

It’s called LOMoMO and the LEGEND: The Locked-Out Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra with Stanislaw Skrowaczewsk.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center Auditorium

Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, conductor

Tony Ross, cello

Here’s the Program:

Antonin Dvorak: Cello Concerto in B Minor, Opus 104


Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Opus 47

According to the Musician’s union, this concert replaces the opening night concerts that were cancelled by the Minnesota Orchestral Association along with the majority of the fall season.

The concert will be a celebration of the 110-year legacy of “world-class artistry our community has built and supported in the Minnesota Orchestra.”

As you know, Management locked out the orchestra players after their contract expired Oct. 1 and then canceled the first six weeks of the season. Management is seeking pay cuts of 30 to 50 percent from union members.

Is it the same thing? Could it be perceived as the same thing? On such questions, ethics in journalism are determined.

On the one hand, the concert isn’t a political fundraiser. On the other, it is a sign of support for one side in what is clearly a news story underway in the arts community.

Presumably, the newspaper’s arts unit will provide coverage of the concert as a news story, or at least as a music event. But should other journalists not on the clock be allowed to attend?

You are the (managing) editor: What say you?

Note: The Minnesota Orchestra musicians asked MPR to record this concert. The Minnesota Orchestra asked MPR not to record it. MPR decided not to record the concert saying to do so would constitute taking a side in the dispute.

  • Sam

    And just to muddy the conflict of interest waters even more, the Publisher of the Strib is a member of the orchestra’s board of directors, and therefore had a vote on whether or not the musicians should be locked out. The paper disclosed this in its editorial on the lockout last week, but seems to have made no effort to obtain a quote from its publisher on how he voted and why.

  • bsimon

    Didn’t some NPR reporters get in trouble in 2010 for attending the Stewart/Colbert rally in DC? sometimes the bosses take themselves a bit too seriously. When the boss starts tying dictate what you do on your own time, it’s time to put the resume out there.

  • Bob Collins

    As i vaguely recollect, it wasn’t that the NPRers went, it was that NPR pre-emptively said they couldn’t. But I could be wrong.

  • JackU

    The correct answer is “Other”. These are union members and solidarity among union members regardless of the union is a long standing tradition. The message was on a union website. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a message like that on the site of every major union in the Twin Cities.