On Eric Snider and ethics

Daily Herald, 24 August 2003

Article Summary:

Eric D. Snider, columnist and arts critic for the Daily Herald, was fired last week for violating the ethical standards of the newspaper.

Neil Simon's play "Rumors" was canceled after the copyright holder was informed by at least two tipsters that the Grove Theater altered the script to delete profanity.  The two tipsters were Snider and his roommate, a Herald employee who also happened to be starring in the play.  In reporting the incident, Snider wrote that the identity of the tipster was "a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie."

The ethics problem would have been avoided if Snider had revealed the copyright issue in a legitimate news story weeks earlier.  Instead he "waited until the shoe dropped on the production, the result of tips whose source was purportedly unknown."

"It is not appropriate for a reporter to get involved in creating news."

Snider also failed to bring to the attention of his supervisor a possible conflict of interest.  Snider's roommate and friend was part of the story.  He was a member of the play's cast and had reported the script alterations to Samuel French.

Reporters should make every effort to fully identify the news source in a story, and should not deliberately hide the truth.  Snider broke a cardinal rule by knowingly writing a falsehood.

In a Salt Lake Tribune article, Celia R. Baker wrote that Snider's approach was unfair to the Grove
Theatre because he had "a specific and significant involvement in the story. He supplied the tip that led to the copyright action, which has now led to him writing about it."