Update: Danielle Anderson resigned as president of the Flagler County Republican Club on Dec. 7.
The following was reported by Colin Wolf, digital editor of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and is reprinted here by permission.
An Instagram photo from October 24 shows a woman next to a massive pickup truck lined with a custom wrap showing President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence giving two enthusiastic thumbs up, along with their re-election campaign slogan, “Keep America Great Again.” The caption of the Instagram post reads “Meet Danielle Anderson, President of the Flagler County Republican Club.”
Anderson is also a reporter for the Daytona Beach News-Journal, a Gatehouse Media property and the area’s largest daily covering Volusia and Flagler counties.
“As a mom, journalist, activist and community influencer, she’s making strides with the Flagler County Republican Club,” continues the post. “We just don’t know how she does it all!”
Anderson’s profile on the Flagler Republican Party website confirms her role as the GOP’s club president and that she’s the owner of Ella Notorious, LLC a “public relations and media company.” Her profile page hasn’t been updated in over four years. Posts on the GOP site under the same byline as her company include “Flagler Republicans Rock The House for 2020,” a press release for a Trump 2020 rally from last September, and a “What Governor Rick Scott has Done for Florida” story from 2014.
Anderson’s most recent story for the Daytona Beach News-Journal is also about Florida politics.
Posted last week and titled “Senator’s visit boosts Flagler’s Teens-in-Flight program,” Anderson’s piece is essentially a glowing write-up of Republican Sen. Rick Scott’s tour of a local flight program. “On Friday, Flagler County-based Teens-In-Flight received a boost when U.S. Sen. Rick Scott dropped by to visit with students, instructors and board members of the aviation nonprofit,” reads the story.
An accompanying photo, by Anderson, also shows a room filled with Republican leaders like Scott, Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly, and Palm Coast City Councilman Jack Howell. (Staly sits on the Teens in Flight board. Howell is the organization’s director.)
Nowhere in the article does it mention Anderson’s affiliation with the local GOP, and how she’s simultaneously covering the same politicians she helps elect. And, none of Anderson’s other, less political, stories for the paper even mention that she owns a PR company.
“Danielle Anderson has been a freelance community correspondent for The Flagler/Palm Coast News-Tribune, a free weekly distributed in Flagler County, since 2012,” tweeted News-Journal editor Nick Klasne.“She does not and has never covered government meetings or politics. Her political views are her own business.”
Other News-Journal reporters also defended Anderson’s dual positions.
“That I’ve never, before today, noticed Anderson’s politics, speaks a lot to her ability to cover w/o visible bias,” tweeted Casmira M. Harrison. “That I get innumerable emails suggesting we’re a leftist rag despite this revelation, says even more. Should she drop a role? Maybe. But it hasn’t showed on the pg.”
As others have pointed out, Anderson’s byline is clearly on a Florida political story and while her personal politics are most definitely her own business, working for a political party that you’re supposed to objectively cover for the region’s largest daily newspaper, is in fact a giant conflict of interest that readers should be aware of.
“Danielle is a freelance writer who covers community events in Flagler County,” said News-Journal editor Pat Rice in an emailed statement. “She doesn’t cover the government of Flagler, politics or hard news events. Flagler County is an important part of our market and we want to provide thorough, transparent and unbiased coverage for the benefit of our readers. We are aware of her involvement in Flagler politics, so we limit her assignments to community features and events.”
Of course, every paper has their own code of ethics, but most organization’s rules typically fall under the same guidelines outlined by the Society of Professional Journalism, which states: Journalists should “Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts,” and “avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.”
Creative Loafing was unable to reach Anderson for comment. [Anderson told FlaglerLive in an email: “I think that it’s a shame for a blogger who does not know me, my work or our community to attempt to politicize a visit by a US Senator to a nonprofit organization that supports the children of military family members lost in combat or wounded, to get a few clicks. It is the exact opposite of everything journalism stands for. My professional and personal activities have never crossed paths and I am diligent about maintaining the highest possible professional and ethical standards, while exercising my right as a private citizen to participate in the political process.”]
“Newspapers have nothing without credibility,” tweeted Scott Travis, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with the Sun Sentinel. “Allowing the local Republican (or Democratic) head to write op eds is fine. Paying them to write news stories? I can’t even believe we’re having this conversation.”
In an email response to Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Klasne wouldn’t speak much on the issue, if other writer’s have similar conflicts of interest, or if he believes its the paper’s responsibility to disclose information of this nature to the public.
Klasne did however attack my credibly for tweeting about this story before writing about it, and he also referred to a screenshot of Anderson’s most recent article and the photo of her next to a Trump-themed truck as “unrelated images” and “fact-less nonsense.”
“I repeat: Danielle is NOT and NEVER has been an employee of The News-Journal,” said the editor. “She is a community correspondent — a freelancer — who is paid by the piece and receives no other compensation or benefits from the company.”
Klasne did not say if Anderson will continue to write for the paper in this capacity, but he did take the opportunity to put out a call for new contributors on Twitter.
“If you live in Flagler County and are interested in freelance work, contact me,” tweeted Klasne in the same thread. “We pay freelancers by the piece.”
Anderson’s involvement with the news journal is the exact reason people dont trust the media.
She should not be allowed to write articles and get paid considering her extreme bias.
Also when she covered the teens in flight story she knew what she was doing using those children to paint a specific picture of those in power who were involved
That’s why we don’t trust the media? LOL. When left leaning articles appear, no one really bats an eye. The reasons not to trust the media are not due to biased leanings…most can see through it. It’s the outright dishonest reporting that’s brought to us as factual news on a near daily basis that should be the reason for distrust.
Wow, no free speech for the Republicans?
Beulah Pinion says
I agree you paid and published the articles. The news journal is reasonable for what it is publishing.
She has lost all credibility long ago by continuing to back a foul mouthed ,No integrity, no ethics, low moral standard, corrupt POTUS. He and his rapid brainwashed followers are the lowest of low. I am not HUMAN SCUM. POTUS is unfit for Office, a narcissist, meglomaniac and as Commander in Chief beneath the dignity of the Title. He is an embarrassment to America. Cancel your subscription to the News Journal per WashingtonPost and NY Times as a counter to the BABY in Chief..The TRUTH shall set you FREE. IMPEACH NOW REMOVE FROM OFFICE GET OVER IT.
Art F says
I agree in concept with the premise of the article, but disagree with this example. The story was not about a politician or political event. It was about a politician visiting a local activity. Reporting on that is not taking sides or advocating one party. The left is going way to far overboard attempting to find fault with anyone who may not agree with them. Sad!
Wow, this saddens me. As a person who works with kids and have seen how Danielle does everything to make sure kids get recognition in the news paper, it saddens me to see others attack her maliciously and accuse her of intentions that just are not there. She cares about the community of Flagler and more importantly the kids and community members who work with kids. If her politics were keeping her from doing her job, then go through the proper channels. Don’t put her on trial in the court of public opinion because of your political views. I have read her articles and even the one on Senator Scott visiting and they didn’t politicize what was going on. They were written to draw attention to the good things and good opportunities the kids in that program had. This is just terrible to see. You are trying to burn down a good person with a good heart and good intentions.
CB from PC says
Ha ha ha…have not seen some local Democrats this mad since the Republican, Abe Lincoln, freed their slaves.
That WAPO characterization of Baghdadi as an “austere religious scholar” is another fine example of twisted left-leaning pro Democrat reporting.
(Rabid.)….. I have no room in my psyche for Hypocrites. The same people that wield the voice of Follow the leader would reprimand any of those close to them that spoke the same rhetoric. Look not at those of us that refuse to submit as Human SCUM to your self important Leader but as a voice that implies what the reality of things may not be as they seem. May God Bless and The TRUTH set you FREE. Just for the record. GDI…. I follow no man but JC
“An accompanying photo, by Anderson, also shows a room filled with Republican leaders like Scott, Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly, and Palm Coast City Councilman Jack Howell.”
Howell claimed to be a Democrat in his FL interview.
Either way much ado about nothing.
The whole premise of the article is ridiculous. The media is filled with unabated, left wing Democrats who can barely disguise their hatred for Trump and anything conservative. I recently heard a NPR correspondent reporting on Trump’s response to yet another unfounded accusation roughly as follows: “As president Trump boarded Marine One on the White House lawn, he said, with a straight face….” Yes, he actually interjected “with a straight face.” And someone has the gall to call out a local newspaper reporter for being a Republican with disclosing the fact? This is laughable!
Pierre Tristam says
I’m not able to verify the accuracy of what you report nor its context. But taking it at face value, what’s not at all laughable, what’s tragic really, is that you, a seemingly reasonable person, would a) contest a reporter’s responsibility to call out any official’s lies or misleading statements, and b) that you would be incensed by the reporter, as opposed to by a president who, as of mid-October, has told 13,435 documented lies or misleading statements, according to the Post’s latest tally. And that you would post your comment with a straight face.
Hypocrits. Double Standard. Its ok if THEY do it but any and everybody else is and are wrong for the same. I say this with a sad face. There is no joy in it.
Since TTT anything goes! So lets Make America Corrupt Now.
Name (required) says
Personally, I never want to be a member of any group, where a hat has special meaning. Astounding these days, just how much energy Americans exhaust towards their political zeal. At least I lived during a time when the National pastime was baseball; not political fervor. It’s about time everybody turn off their tv and news from time to time and quit seething over such trivial things. When one makes a full time job protecting their politician a**hole of choice, it makes one look like an a**hole themselves. A reminder to all those seething armchair politicos out there….. they don’t give a damn about you. Never have, never will. Wake up from your pipe dream.
Pierre Tristam says
These are the questions I asked Anderson in a follow-up email before running the piece above. There was unfortunately no answer:
You’re the leader of the local Republican Club covering an event involving a Republican Senator and former governor: whatever the purpose of Scott’s visit, he is nevertheless a politician representing a party with which you are directly affiliated, visiting a local organization. How is raising questions about the ethics of your coverage “the exact opposite of everything journalism stands for,” and why, in this case, was there an exception to what Klasne had said–that you would never cover an event where politics are involved? (Let’s please not pretend that a senator’s visit anywhere does not by definition involve politics.) Scott was not incidental to the event, as might be the case, say, at a festival or other community-oriented events where politicians happen to be part of it, but not headlining it. He was the event. How is it not a fair question to raise, regarding your coverage, as head of the Republican Club?
I had raised similar issues in conversation with you before, seeing the potential for, or the existence of, a problem between your two roles. This is an example, where the potential crossed over into the actual. Do you not see any issue with the the dual roles you’re playing?
Finally, why attack the writer? How is the article in any way “politicizing” the visit, when it has to do with the visit only in so far as your coverage of it is concerned? It’s an article I should have written (though I was not aware of your coverage of the Scott visit). If I had done so, would you have claimed that I don’t know you, our community or your work?
Does it not hurt our trade, as journalists, when reporters have a foot in politics and another in journalism, covering an event where the two intersect? Especially at a time when your party goes out of its way to call us “enemies of the people,” call our work “fake news,” and has successfully undermined the credibility of the work we do? How do the optics, if not the substance, of crossing over as you do from one side to the other and back not hurt that credibility and help fuel the Republicans’ obscene attacks on the press?
GOP the party of dirty tricks. Nothing has changed. Truth is lies and lies are truth. Orwell was a prophet.