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Alesia taking a break during bid for City Council

December 12, 2004

Sometimes, we have to make decisions in the newsroom that might not be popular with readers.

We had to make one last week when we found out one of The Daily Mail correspondents was running for political office. Alesia Parson-McBean, who writes the weekly "Around Jonathan Street" column, filed for a seat on the Hagerstown City Council.

We had to tell Alesia she couldn't write her column while she was a candidate for public office.

I had mixed emotions about this decision.

I knew we had to tell Alesia she had to give up her column, but I hated to lose her because she has done such a terrific job.

The Herald-Mail has a policy, as do most good newspapers, that you can't run for office or hold public office and work for the newspaper. If I were to run for public office (don't laugh), I would have to give up my job here.

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It's clearly a conflict of interest.

Even if Alesia never mentioned she was a candidate or never even hinted about any issues in her column, just the fact that her photo appeared in the paper each week and she was paid for that work would give her an unfair advantage over her opponents who wouldn't have that same opportunity.

It's all a matter of perception.

When I heard Alesia had filed for office, I applauded her decision, however. The newspaper encourages residents to get involved in their community and Alesia was doing just that. Good for her, I thought.

When she wrote her "farewell for now" column in last Tuesday's Daily Mail, she said she was determined to find someone to pick up the Jonathan Street column in her absence, and that's important to our readers.

I'm going to hold her to that.

Alesia opened a window of opportunity in the Jonathan Street community that had been lacking in the newspaper for far too long. She has been one of the most popular correspondents for The Daily Mail in her time with the paper. She writes with passion and it comes through in her columns.

We haven't closed the door completely on Alesia, either. If her run for office doesn't work out, she can always return and continue writing for the paper. If her effort is successful, she can write editorials for the paper like other elected officials often do.

Either way, I don't think we've seen the last of Alesia's columns in The Herald-Mail.

And that's good.

She brought a perspective to The Daily Mail that we didn't have before her columns appeared. She wrote about the people in her community, cried when one of her elders passed away and applauded the good works of the youths in her neighborhood.

When the Memorial Recreation Center was in danger of closing over budget issues, she took it on as a cause. The center remained open. That's what neighborhoods should do.

We wish Alesia all the best in everything she does.




Tony Mulieri is managing editor of The Daily Mail. He may be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7647, or by e-mail at tonym@herald-mail.com.

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