Spider,
I'll offer some insight here, having worked for a Tribune-owned newspaper for eight years.

While I was at the Daily Press in Newport News, Va., our managing editor sent out a note as the 2004 Election loomed that it was unethical for members of the Daily Press to display signs and bumper stickers endorsing a candidate.

While I don't feel my crew on the sports desk was really directed at it, one of my good friends had a Kerry/Edwards sticker on his car and was a staunch Democrat. Most that worked in the newsroom at nights (Designing, editing and building the paper from wire stories and such) were also Dems.

Did it have an impact on how the paper viewed the candidates? I wouldn't really know, since I loathe politics, but the stance of the paper (as a whole) was that as members of the media, its our job to remain impartial as it pertained to layout, design and agenda when it came to laying out the paper.

This meant headline writing (Which the writers do NOT do) must be treated fairly, etc. Having political endorsements on a car in the parking lot could be viewed as the paper having a bias in some way shape or form.

We're all encouraged to vote, but when we clock in, leave those biases and endorsements behind.

Because people view the media one way or another -- it's really contingent on who has the agenda at the local rag and who is pushing it.

I've read many a headline that was deceptive, and cutlines that were the same. However, that may not be what the wire service writer had put high up in the story or what not. We know that many people scan the paper, read the headlines and maybe the first graph or two ... if a misleading headline shrouds the meaning of the story -- then there's an obvious agenda.

Professionalism in creating a media source that's (pardon the Faux News reference) -- fair and balanced -- is a key part of working in that environment, unless you're someone like Christine Brennan at USA Today, who pushes her agenda quite forcefully.

Now, in the sports media, its a bit different. If you're a big backer or donor to any said team/sport/university, you best not be covering them heavily.

Dave Johnson from the DP wrote a story that I'd posted here after the VT tragedy about him leaving all his Hokie Gear at home when it came time to work. He's one of the best at putting his alma mater away when it comes time to work.

Donations and being a booster also has its question marks. At my alma mater, the only money I've donated is the the Alumni Association -- not to any specific team or sport -- while I might want to, I'm not in a position to do that, because it wouldn't be fair to A) the coverage I provide B) my alma mater for "building them up" and C) the rest of the country in terms of fairness.

Those that know me on a personal level know my feelings about my entire athletics program at said alma mater -- not just one sport. I'm proud of where I come from and where I went to school, but when it comes to putting on the work hat, I've got no preference and call it like I see it --- that comes from the training that really only a newspaper can provide. TV stations push stories to get ratings, newspapers still have the responsibility to inform on everything, as well as have that story that sells papers.

It's a slippery slope in some ways ... does the Military Beat writer contribute to anti-war groups? You think that might be problematic with coverage? Depends on the person, but there's too many agenda-based media out there anyway ... and I'm one of them. My agenda is to push Title IX reform as it relates to wrestling ... my only real political agenda.

You won't see any of Donna Lopiano's rah-rah-rah man-hating Title IX diatribes on my page for such reason.