[A dancer's new tale about Al Neuharth is part Puzo, Susann]
I always knew where my reporter's paycheck came from: advertising sales. But the so-called Chinese wall separating news-gathering from the paper's business side meant I could report freely, without favoring some powerful interests over others.
It's a more complicated story now that I'm a blogger trying to make a buck. Exhibit A in a new dilemma: Naja Hara, a self-described exotic dancer, back in the days when Rochester, N.Y., was Gannett's headquarters town. Hara, who says her stage name was Boom-Z-Boom, has self-published online an excerpt of her unlikely expose: From the Gang to Gannett. I first learned about her website last month from a reader.
Hara is offering free excerpts on her website, until Oct. 31. After that, they'll cost $3.29 a pop. Part Mario Puzo's The Godfather and Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls, Hara's story covers her romantic ties to gangsters in organized crime families active in 1970s Rochester. She devotes a chapter to Al Neuharth, the famously colorful retired Gannett CEO who launched USA Today.
I had been considering her story when, apparently weary of waiting, Hara used Google's AdSense program to advertise (left) her website on my blog last night -- "breaking" her story here, and creating an ethical dilemma. If I don't write about her site, thereby forcing Hara to keep advertising, I make more money. (Maybe lots, after factoring in possibly higher per-click ad prices). Yet, if I do write about Hara, she might stop advertising -- potentially costing me big money. Such is the life of a new publisher, eh?
With this post, you see the decision I made -- and all the new ethical considerations I never faced as a traditional journalist.
About Hara's Neuharth story
I cannot independently corroborate a key scene because, in her version, Hara and Neuharth were the only ones present. So, I'm not going to repeat the story here. (I will say this much, however: It brings new meaning to my nickname for Neuharth.)
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