Agency Underwriting Slants News Coverage

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection funneled money through a non-profit organization in order to underwrite environmental reporting on Philadelphia's leading public-radio station, WHYY, reports the Philadelphia Daily News.
The radio stories were supposed to take "a solution-oriented approach" according to an agreement between WHYY's news director and GreenWorks, which received $466,000 from the state agency via a Washington, D.C., public relations firm. GreenWorks paid $93,830 to WHYY to hire a reporter, who was to work with the GreenWorks staff "to identify and plan the content" of his reports. "The bulk of the state money stayed with GreenWorks, to hire three other staff members who were supposed to help [the reporter] with his research and post relevant material at a GreenWorks Web site," the Daily News writes. "The reports continued until mid-October, when Gwen Shaffer, a former GreenWorks staffer and occasional on-air contributor to WHYY, prepared a critical, first-person account of the situation for the Columbia Journalism Review."