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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Local news stations contribute to Nevada Attorney General race; posing questions

While allowable by Nevada state law, the $40,000 donation made by Intermountain West Communications and its local affiliates to a Nevada Attorney General candidate raised some ethical eyebrows as it was revealed.

Local NBC affiliates in Reno, Las Vegas and Elko made the contributions to Democratic Attorney General candidate Ross Miller, according to a recent article posted by Nevada Watchdog, a non-profit organization dedicated to covering Nevada state government activity.

“We do not take a position regarding the question of the ethics behind this practice, but we do believe the public should know the donations are being made,” Denise Roth Barber, managing director for the National Institute on Money in State Politics, said in the report.

But according to research conducted by, media money in politics, whether local or national, is nothing new, and the more crucial aspect of the reality is the audience’s reaction to the donation rather than the media organization’s act of donating.

“Journalism is a reputational business,” Tom Rosentiel, director for the Pew Research Project for Excellence in Journalism, said in OpenSecrets’ report. “The appearance of a conflict of interest is the important thing, not necessarily whether or not [the donation] does influence content.”





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