While it is fairly common for a journalist to cross over into the realm of public relations, controversy is swirling about soon-to-be former Daily News reporter Oren Yaniv. Yaniv covered the Brooklyn courts and Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson before giving Daily News Editor-in-Chief and President Colin Myler his two-week notice April 24. Yaniv is leaving the Daily News to work for Thompson – a move sources say has been in the works for many months and was hidden from the Daily News' management by both Yaniv and Thompson.
Keith J. Kelly, the media columnist and reporter for the New York Post, reports on the highly suspicious move of soon to be former Daily News courts reporter Oren Yaniv to a job with Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson:
While it is fairly common for an ink-stained journalist to cross over into the realm of public relations, controversy is now swirling about soon-to-be former Daily News reporter Oren Yaniv.
Yaniv covered the Brooklyn courts and Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson before giving Editor-in-Chief and President Colin Myler his two-week notice April 24.
He told Myler he was going to become part of Thompson’s media staff. Yaniv’s last day at the paper will be May 8.
At least one insider says Yaniv first expressed a desire to work for Thompson way back in 2013, shortly after the November election and before Thompson’s January 2014 swearing-in.
Yaniv was a frequent outlet for favorable news on Thompson over the past 18 months.
Critics said that virtually all the stories that were penned by Yaniv about Thompson during the year-and-a-half were positive and reflected favorably on his soon-to-be new boss.
Yaniv was removed from the Brooklyn courts beat on April 24, after telling his bosses he was quitting.
Armed with the knowledge, Myler, three days after Yaniv gave notice, still OK’d a story on DA Thompson written by Yaniv and a second reporter. The story quoted Thompson about crime dropping in Brooklyn — while it was up in the rest of the city.
Yaniv shoots down the idea that he has been secretly harboring desires to write press releases for Thompson over the past 18 months as he was writing news stories for the News.
“The information you received is false,” Yaniv insisted on Thursday. “I have never approached the DA or his transition team after his election nor did I talk to anyone about joining the DA’s press office until recently, when I was approached.”…
I'm told the Post is right and Yaniv is not telling the whole truth (or perhaps not even telling the partial truth) about his contacts with Thompson's office.
This speaks poorly for Yaniv. But it also speaks poorly for Thompson, who is again showing a lack of ethical judgement.
True, that matters little in Brooklyn, where dishonesty and corruption are the political and legal norm.
But it should matter to media outlets and journalists who cover Thompson – and it should also matter to you.
If a public servant can essentially use his hiring power to co-opt the press, then society suffers. Similarly, this is why some states have laws that prevent public servants from leaving office and going to work immediately for the private industries they regulated. Without those laws, public servants were easily corrupted by private industries that could afford to give ex-lawmakers and ex-regulators cushy jobs. A wait period – in some cases more than one year – before an ex-public servant can work for companies he regulated does not eliminate corruption, but it does appear to reduce it.
If the Daily News had a wait period in journalists' contracts banning them from working for people and institutions they cover for six months or a year after leaving the Daily News, Yaniv would not have been able to make a two-week transition to Thompson's office.
Be that as it may, Yaniv's reporting was often little more that a DA's press release rewritten and unquestionably regurgitated. At least now people will know what he writes is spin, not news reporting.
As for his new boss, anyone who could let a Satmar hasid who threw bleach in the eyes of an anti-child-sex-abuse activist walk without any prison time has proven that he has no ethical compass. That move was the canary in the coal mine of corrupt Brooklyn law enforcement and should have drawn widespread condemnation. But Yaniv's reporting downplayed Thompson's awful choice and helped to cover it up.
Just as Yaniv and Thompson had no shame then, they have no shame now. And neither, it seems, does Brooklyn.
[Hat Tip: The Lion.]