Monday, October 18, 2010

Journalism Junkets

First of all I would like to thank everyone for participating in what I thought was a great discussion on Thursday. I am still interested to hear more people's personal experiences and how they handled them. Also, we had a bit of a sarcastic tone when it came to taking "freebies" but this can be a serious issue. For those of you that said you take things and it depends on the situation, have you thought about it more and have any more thoughts on the issue?

And we didn't really discuss how we would feel if we found out a report or story we read had a journalist who took free stuff from their subject. What if you read a great piece and found out the journalist had taken freebies, would it take away from the story? Or would you say, "Hey it's all situational and I'm sure the journalist took the freebie because it was ok and didn't effect the writing."

From our discussion it's pretty obvious junkets are quite prevalent in the journalism world, so how many of you think this is a major problem in journalism today?

Here are some of the links to the sites where I got most of my info.


  1. I guess taking free stuff isn't as easy as it may sound but who wouldn't want a perk here or there. I feel that free stuff is free stuff and it has no effect on how a story is told, atleast not to me. Sure if it has to do with a sensitive subject there could be some difficulties but in the end you are a journalist for a reason and uncovering the truth is what you have to do! But yes I'll take that free shirt or some food when offered. Take that Code of Ethics!!!

  2. I heard that the Time Magazine staff was given IPad's. If this is true what do you think of that? I know that Time has done a lot of advertising and articles on the IPad, so do you think that they should have taken them, if it is true.
    Is this proof that accepting gifts can give favoritism towards a product?

  3. This summer I found myself photographing a lot of food for weekly dining pieces. At nearly every place, I was offered the leftover food.

    The company I worked for had recently been sold, so rules on what we could and could not do were still being figured out. However, this was my job, I was photographing on company time and my job was not to sample food -it was to photograph it.

    Although it was tempting to take things at times, I felt the best thing to do would be to politely reject it, using company policy or dietary restrictions as my reasoning. If someone did push, I would usually sample a bite, but never the whole thing.

    Taking free things can be tempting. Guilt, too, can factor into the equation, and if it is guilt that propels someone to take something, I find it even more necessary to steer clear as obviously emotions are playing into the assignment.

  4. Well, I don't have much of a problem with free stuff, ever.

    There's certainly a line to be crossed for a journalist, especially anyone who's expected to write as a critic. If you were expected to write a NYTimes review of a four-star restaurant you wouldn't even want the management to know there was a critic in the house.

    I guess it all depends on context, the type of media you collect and distribute, and whether or not a contact is expecting something from you (but, like we said, everyone expects something).

  5. The only experience I really have with freebies is when I used to photograph bands I'd get free admission or merch here and there. It's a little different because I was working independently and not really reviewing so there was nothing to be biased about.

    I understand the attitude many of our classmates take with regard to free stuff, which is one of general acceptance. I guess my personal feeling is that it should be avoided, even the little things like free food at a ball game you're covering. Sure, you could argue that they're just being "nice," but not everyone there is getting offered free food. If you are covering a game that lasts 3 hours you might get hungry, but you should be responsible for yourself so there's never any question about your ethics.

    Also, the question about where to draw the line is just too unclear. It's better to politely decline than to have to answer for something later.

  6. I'm sorry but nobody is going to stop me from eating free food at the events I cover (which is primarily sports at my job). I'll specify Griz football games for example.

    First of all, it's their policy to feed you. They aren't offering you food from the concessions... they are hiring a small staff of catering whose job is to feed you. It isn't favoritism or kindness... it's policy.

    Second, because of this if my colleagues and I go on strike from eating that's a lot of food that will just be thrown out.

    Third, I need to eat. On Griz games I'm often there from about 11-6 (parking, set up cameras, maybe shoot some stand-ups, get establishing shots, shoot the game, pack up camera gear, video the opposing team's press conference, video the Grizzlies' press conference, then finally re-pack up the cameras and leave). And I'm often working up a sweat running up and down the sideline so as to get a good angle of every play. That's seven hours of work without food... I'm not going to turn it down.

    Fourth, at my job it has no affect. I portray what happened at the game. My stomach being empty or full has no affect on who wins. And as far as off-field issues go, as a journalist I promise that I’m going to do my job professionally and without bias whether or not the team I’m covering has supplied me with a few free meals.