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Weather Anchor Wins Election, Could Pose Conflict of Interest

<br><font size="3"><font face="Times New Roman">A soon-to-be <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Machesney</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Park</st1:placetype></st1:place> trustee is a familiar face, but could it pose problems in the future? <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p></font></font><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"> </font>

The next trustee of District Four in Machesney Park is a very familiar face.

   

Aaron Wilson won with 300 votes. His full-time job is a TV weather anchor at WIFR in Rockford and he's not leaving it.

 

That raises questions of conflict of interest for journalism professor Shawn Gillen.

 

"When he reads that news for him to maintain a strong level of objectivity and for his news station to remain a station of high integrity is going to be difficult," said Beloit College Professor Shawn Gillen.  

 

But the station's general manager, Greg Graber, insists Wilson does not read the news.

 

"We asked our lawyers if this would be ethical and they said as long as we don't help him get the job nor have him talk about his job on the air it would be fine for them as long as we personally felt it was okay for us at the station, which we did," explained Graber.

 

But Gillen fears the station has put itself on a slippery slope; where a news organization must now report on a legislative body where one of its own employees now makes decisions.

 

"They should remain out of anything that could compromise their objectivity or the integrity of the news organization they work for," said Gillen.

 

"We don't see any conflict at this point. Our lawyers saw none," said Graber.

 

 

 

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