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A conflict of interest can create an appearance of impropriety that can undermine the reliability of a content source. Any media organization has a conflict of interest in discussing anything that may impact its ability to communicate as it wants with its audience. Most media, when reporting a story which involves a parent company or a subsidiary, will explicitly report this fact as part of the story, in order to alert the audience that their reporting has the potential for bias due to the possibility of a conflict of interest.

The presence of a conflict of interest is independent of the occurrence of impropriety. Therefore, a conflict of interest can be discovered and voluntarily defused before any corruption occurs. A conflict of interest exists if the circumstances are reasonably believed (on the basis of past experience and objective evidence) to create a risk that a decision may be unduly influenced by other, secondary interests, and not on whether a particular individual is actually influenced by a secondary interest.

A conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgement or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.

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