Cincinnati Enquirer President and Publisher Margaret Buchanan is leaving the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees, citing potential perception of a conflict of interest as her reporters cover the recent departure of UC's former president, Greg Williams, who abruptly resigned on Aug. 21.
“My news team is reporting aggressively on the departure of UC President Greg Williams and the search for the next president,” Buchanan said in a statement. “The credibility that is so important to our news team’s work is my highest priority, and I did not want my involvement with UC to make it uncomfortable or confusing for them or for the community.”
When The Enquirer first reported Williams' resignation, the newspaper mentioned that Buchanan was on the UC board. However, The Enquirer did not mention asking Buchanan about the resignation even though she was present when it happened — an omission that raised questions for Jim Romenesko, a popular journalism blogger. The Enquirer emailed Romenesko saying Buchanan did not know any extra information.
The Enquirer in at least six follow-up stories about various individuals involved in the Williams resignation neglected to mention Buchanan’s connection. The Enquirer again noted Buchanan’s status on the board in an Aug. 24 story titled, “Williams, UC board frustrated each other.” The story again failed to mention why Buchanan wouldn’t comment.
For full disclosure, Buchanan today cited her board positions at the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC), Cincinnati Business Committee, UC Health, Marvin Lewis Foundation and Neediest Kids of All.
CityBeat previously highlighted the potential conflict of interest between The Enquirer and other local organizations due to Buchanan's involvement. The Enquirer failed to cite connections between Buchanan and 3CDC multiple times in the past. A CityBeat analysis found Buchanan was only mentioned in 15 out of 481 potential news articles about 3CDC. (Due to how The Enquirer’s database is organized, some of those news articles could be duplicates.) In one particular story, The Enquirer praised 3CDC while omitting the publisher’s ties to the nonprofit corporation.