Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Junket Journos, corporate gifting, and unbiased reporting

Quality Street Digest is a sounding board for freelancers who contribute to "London newspapers formerly known as broadsheets." The odd name may bring to mind those tins of British wrapped toffees once handed out by PR firms, but it refers specifically to "quality" daily newspapers in London which eschew tabloid values, except for the shape of the paper. This exchange recently appeared there:

C: I was shocked recently when a journalist becoming newly established asked at a meeting how she could get free trips abroad etc, & I think this sort of 'chase the jollies' approach damages our trade and needs discouraging.

W: I am less worried about it, having had it as part of my life since
starting work. But in my first job, there was a shrine to the
crappiest corporate gift given to journalists. That attitude towards
the freebies has been evident in every job I have ever done. I have
found most hacks can still annihilate a company that deserves
annihilating no matter how much corporate hospitality and freebie
trips they have received from that company.

At the entrance to the Delhi Foreign Correspondents' Club, everyone steps on a pricey Oriental rug given by a Pakistani general as a welcome present to an incoming South Asia Bureau Chief from Washington, who only accepted it because her translator insisted; otherwise great offense would be taken. As soon as she crossed the border, she quickly donated it to the Delhi hacks' clubhouse-- as if it might be radioactive. "We must refuse to accept anything that could be construed as a bribe," she intoned. At a Bombay press conference for a satellite channel launch the same year, all reporters were given new television sets in their goodie bags, but by this time she did not even blink. (Nor did she take the TV home.)

What's the most blatant corporate gift you've come across as a reporter on the job?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

tv sets for media reporters in Bombay