The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s ombuds(wo)man is not Sid Hartman’s bud (man). From Saturday’s MST and Kate Parry :
It may surprise readers to see Star Tribune sports columnist Sid Hartman appearing in a television commercial for Sun Country Airlines.
It certainly surprised his editors.
The newsroom’s best-known columnist did not run this embarrassing conflict of interest by them before he agreed to do a commercial for a local company regularly covered by the newspaper. He let the editors find out via a Sun Country press release.
In the commercial, Hartman appears holding a Star Tribune and remarks that he is reading “the greatest newspaper in the world.” That comment, he said, was why he didn’t consult with editors before signing on with Sun Country. “I thought I was doing a favor for the Star Tribune. I say nothing about Sun Country. This was a free commercial for the Star Tribune.”
Hartman would not be where he is professionally if he were that naive.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t think there was anything wrong,” Hartman said. “I should have talked to them ahead of time. If I’d talked to them ahead of time, I wouldn’t have done it.” He refused to say if the company has disciplined him.
Hartman said he received compensation in the form of free airline tickets, which he said he plans to donate to a charity he would not disclose for publication.
Hartman has the upper hand when it comes to fallout from his rather public, professional indiscretions: Managers respectfully treat any consequences as private. Hartman told me for a previous column that his many years in the job make him a special case and the usual standards shouldn’t always apply to him. Whatever managers have done in the way of past consequences doesn’t appear to be sinking in enough to give Hartman pause before he crosses that line again.
“I’ll make you a bet you get 100 calls in my favor for every one you get in your favor,” Hartman told me.