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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A follow-up to a story we told you earlier this month about candidates in Columbus and Bladen Counties hiring people to get out the vote during elections. District Attorney candidate Jon David went on the record with us saying it’s a bad idea. The Whiteville News Reporter took our story and expanded on it, but reported that David also tried to hire some help. While tracking down more information, we found that the reporter who covered the story for the paper made a campaign contribution to David’s opponent.

The Whiteville News Reporter’s Bob High wrote this article last week, which painted David in a rather unflattering light. David has been critical of the get-out-the-vote practice in which candidates, including his opponent Butch Pope, have spent thousands of dollars paying people to round up votes. But the article implies David tried to recruit McRae Dowless, a convicted felon who’d already been hired by Pope, to help with his campaign.

“There’s apparently an allegation that I met Mr. Dowless at a public event where there were hundreds of people present,” David said. “It wouldn’t be uncommon for me to walk up and speak to people, ask for their support and ask for their family’s support, but the suggestion that I tried to hire him or anybody else for get out the vote is simply wrong, and I deny that.”

Despite the fact that David told High the allegations were untrue and Dowless’s criminal record casts doubt on his credibility, High reported Dowless’s allegations as if they were fact. He cited corroboration from an unnamed third source.

We then found out that High has contributed money to Pope’s campaign. It’s a practice that’s strictly banned by many media outlets. We contacted a journalism ethics professor at UNC Chapel Hill to help explain why.

“The conflict of interest may arise if someone is contributing to a particular campaign or a cause, but the perception may be, whether it’s true or not, the perception may be that this individual is in someway biased and not able to be objective in their reporting,” Dr. Lois Boynton said.

Boynton said the closer a journalist is to the front lines, the more important it is for them to remain impartial.

We spoke with High this afternoon, and he told us his wife made the contribution from their joint account. The campaign report makes no mention of his wife, and we’re told this is not the first candidate High has contributed to.

The owner of the News Reporter, James High, who is no relation to Bob, also has contributed more than $500 to Pope’s campaign so far during this election.

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19 Comments on "ONLY ON 3: Newspaper reporter’s contribution raises ethical question"

2015 years 10 months ago

It amazes me that Jon David would manipulate situations in order to point fingers at Butch Pope when there is not ANYTHING he has negative on Butch. Jon David’s knowledge of this district, columbus, bladen, and brunswick counties does not hold a candlestick to Butch’s knowledge of what this district needs in the D.A.s office from the little towns to the big towns. Jon David probably doesn’t even know how to get to Hallsboro, white oak, or Winnabow. I bet Butch could drive there blindfolded. Just a note, DO NOT vote for a candidate based on news media, it’s not always accurate or fair, and many times what it takes to make a GOOD story isn’t always full of truthful facts.
VOTE BUTCH POPE, he has no other political motives like is his candidate, I know Butch and have known Butch for over twenty years, and he wants to be your d.a. and make major changes to our criminal justice system, much needed changes

2015 years 10 months ago

i cannot believe this is news. for some reason, wway tv3 is very slanted against certain people in columbus and brunswick counties.

on a separate note, jon david has no business running for DA in this district. he works in new hanover for his brother and has never worked a day in his life in brunswick, columbus, or bladen counties, has done nothing significant for those communities, but he thinks he deserves to be our DA just because he moved across the river in order to be able to run for our DA? what a joke. why don’t you report about that WWAYTV3?

2015 years 10 months ago

From Guest helmv “…get sick of them in New Hanover with all their high flying crap with all their paid time they spend on the phone with the Eastern District United States Attorney’s office trying to drum up federal charges…”

So you are upset because they are doing their jobs? Wow, you must have been prosecuted by them in the past.

If they get federal charges on a person, 1) they will get a longer jail term and stay in jail longer before any chance of parole 2) the cost will come out of the federal budget, not the state.

2015 years 10 months ago

So you want to talk about ethics. Well, let’s talk about the ethics of the people that are in charge of educating these leaders of tomorrow (students). Their ethics have been thrown out of the schools when the devil took over the schools. Parents need to wake up and take a stand and make often visits to the classrooms and schools just to see and hear the ethics that are there.

columbus county son
2015 years 10 months ago

O could not Have said it better myself way to go. VOTE POPE


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