KDKA-TV (2) political and business analyst Jon Delano created a potential conflict of interest by accepting a position on the board of directors of Pennsylvania-American Water Co., according to published reports.
That’s the ruling of the station’s news director, John Verrilli, who told the Post-Gazette‘s Rob Owen that KDKA management should have been consulted before Delano accepted the appointment.
Delano, who also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University, resigned from the PAWC board one day after the appointment was announced.
Owen noted that other local TV personalities also serve on corporate boards, including Sally Wiggin of WTAE-TV (4), who is a director of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. That station’s news director, Bob Longo, told Owen that although Wiggin has covered stories about zoo animals, she has not been part of the WTAE’s coverage of controversies involving the zoo.
A lawyer and political scientist by training, Delano also serves on the board of the Magee-Womens Research Institute and the Allegheny County Bar Association. But PAWC — unlike those organizations or the Pittsburgh Zoo — is a for-profit corporation.
A journalism professor at the University of North Carolina told a blogger for the Philadelphia Inquirer that Delano’s appointment could have created at least two different problems.
“It would give the appearance that the journalist’s media outlet would play favorites to that company — even though that may not be the case,” Chris Roush told the Inquirer. “It would call into question the motives of everything that the journalist would write in the future, even if it had nothing to do with the company.”