As a PR-centric student at the Cronkite school, I know better than to offer a journalist any type of “gift” if there is an intention to bribe or gain favor. However, it made me question where the line falls between gift-giving and simply supplying a journalist with a story. It happens all the time with travel, music, fashion and food writers. Free stuff just comes with the job.
Seeing as how my interests and those of many others in this class are similar to the leisure and lifestyle topics like those above, it is a wonder to me if there is a line being crossed by all the free merchandise, meals and travel some journalists receive. While routines have made it appear harmless to offer a food writer a free meal to write about a restaurant, it actually counteracts the ethical code all journalists should have.
Truth-telling should be a journalists number one priority. If a fashion writer is showered with the latest trends on the market, how could he or she not be swayed to write favorably. Not only is this interference with judgement, but it also makes it difficult for a writer to offer the truth for fear of hurting the brand. Why is no one thinking of the consumer who deserves the truth?
While it’s nice to read through travel columns and discover the best of the best in the hotel businesses, it would serve consumers better to get a non-bias opinion. Obviously, a travel writer isn’t going to a hotel and not having the time of their life (unless they are using ethical judgements and not in the best suite with champagne waiting in their room at arrival). It’s a line that many readers don’t think about when reading the travel section or the lifestyle section.
The consumer demands an honest portrayal of what the food is like or what the hotel offers. My question is: Is it possible to be a journalist and separate yourself from doing public relations work?
I thought I would include some of the New York Times Company’s policies on travel, sports, and entertainment journalism:
“65. No staff member of our company who prepares a travel article or broadcast — whether on assignment or freelance, and whether for us or for others – may accept free or discounted services or preferential treatment from any element of the travel industry. This rule covers hotels, resorts, restaurants, tour operators, airlines, railways, cruise lines, rental car companies and tourist attractions. This prohibition does not rule out routinely awarded frequent-flier points.”
“67. Writers of travel articles must conceal their identity as journalists during the reporting, so that they will experience the same conditions as an ordinary consumer. If the affiliation becomes known, the writer must discuss with a newsroom manager whether the assignment can be salvaged. In special cases, the affiliation may be disclosed – for example, when a permit is required to enter a closed area.”
“59. Except for properly issued press passes for event coverage, members of the sports staff may not accept tickets, travel expenses, meals, gifts or any other benefit from teams or promoters. (At their discretion, unit newsroom managements may permit journalists to accept the light refreshments routinely offered in press boxes during games.)”
“61. Staff members covering entertainment and the arts have a special duty to guard against conflicts of interest, real or apparent. Arts coverage, whether national or local, can often make or break reputations and commercial success. In theater, movies, music, art, dance, publishing, fashion and restaurants, critics and reviewers have an obligation to exert our newsrooms’ influence ethically and prudently.”
“62. Except in their published writing, reporters, reviewers, critics and their editors in the arts may not help others to develop, market or promote artistic, literary or other creative ventures. They may not introduce artists to agents, publishers, producers or galleries; chefs to restaurant owners; or designers to clothing manufacturers. They should refrain from unpublished commentary, even informal, on works in progress. They may not offer ideas or proposals to people who figure in their coverage or make investments in productions in their field. (Food writers and editors may not invest in restaurants.) They may not serve on advisory boards, awards juries or other panels organized by people who figure in coverage they provide, prepare or supervise. They may not accept awards from such panels.”
Hi (insert name) – I’m Jessica Von Schell, a recent graduate from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism andMass Communication at Arizona State University, it’s a pleasure to meet you. My background is primarily in public relations and organizational communications.
Through five professional internships and a variety of academic courses I have mastered the art of communications writing and my body of work has supported the successful development of online web content, social media strategies and public relations campaigns for companies like the Phoenix Suns and the Flinn Foundation.
I am passionate about animals, hiking and anything public relations related! I am positive that my breadth of experience can support your organization’s mission and vision and produce metric-driven results. If you are ever looking for apublic relations or communications specialist, please do not hesitate to contact me. Here is my business card.[cid:ii_1352d37c52f9a5d8]
Hello, it’s so great to run into you.
My name is Emily Timm.
I have a range of experience in media and public relations and I think we have a lot to offer each other. My strengths are in writing and oral communication, and mobile and web marketing.
Here’s one of my business cards. You’ll find the URL to my website, too – emilytimm.com – to see my past work. I’d love to meet up with you soon, please email or call me.
Do you have a business card I could have?
Great, thank you. Have a wonderful day and I look forward to talking with you soon.