The Roanoke Times is a sponsor of FloydFest.  That’s right, a newspaper — a new organization that is expected to provide objective coverage of an event — is also a sponsor of the event.

In the news business we have three words that describe this situation: Conflict of interest.

Any time you see a news organization taking a financial stake in a public event you immediately wonder if that organization will treat the event objectively. Will The Roanoke Times, for example, provide more news coverage because they are sponsoring the event? Will they overlook stories that might place the event in a controversial or negative light?

Good questions. On opening night of FloydFest 6, the talk on the grounds centered around the gestapo-like tactics of The National Park Police and their "Criminal Interdiction Team" brought in from Asheville to profile, harass and arrest festival attendees.  Didn’t see a word about the problem in Friday’s Times. Some gosh, gee-whiz feature stuff about the event but no hard news coverage.

The old Roanoke Times, the one I worked for back in the 60s, would have avoided such a conflict. The editors would have said that such sponsorship creates the "appearance of impropriety."

And they would have been right.