Reporting on business, or becoming a business?
Tom Steinert-Threlkeld of Multichannel News writes that CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo has a bigger ethical dilemma than accepting a plane ride on the Citigroup corporate jet.
Steinert-Threlkeld wrote, “Now that she has climbed her own ladder of success, on the CNBC, Wall Street Journal and Business Week platforms, she has produced her own conundrum. The real revelation of the last month has been her decision to trademark the ‘Money Honey’ brand. In eight filings found on the Web site of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Bartiromo is listed as the owner of the ‘Money Honey’ mark for a whole host of products and services aimed at children, ranging from a TV series to electronic chat rooms to dolls and doll accessories. Stuff for the next generation of would-be financial journalists.
“This is her economic right. And she can probably manage the merchandising of the trademark; or have some outfit manage the business for her.
“But what it does is blur the definition of who she is. Is she reporting on business or conducting business? Is she separate and objective from the crowd she writes about or part of it? And is she carefully protecting herself from any insinuation that, in a case like that with Thomson, that she is using her gender instead of her skill to get scoops?
“Wish that the brand she had trademarked was more businesslike. Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey used â€¦ their own names. But ‘Money Honey’?
“Bartiromo not only doesnâ€™t discourage the use. She endorses it. She looks like she plans to trade on it.
“That could make it hard for her — and female journalists following in her footsteps — to avoid insinuation that somehow their stature as ‘honeys’ help them, on the beat, every day.
“And even if well-meant, the deliberate use and marketing of ‘Money Honey’ as a personally-owned mark offers no protection if another Citigroup ruckus comes along.”
Read more here.