OLD Media Moves

Biz media have bigger ethical issues than being cozy with sources

February 3, 2007

TheDeal.com executive editor Yvette Kantrow wants to know why the media has gotten so up in arms about CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo taking a trip on the Citigroup jet when there appear to be bigger ethical issues surrounding business journalism.

TheDeal.comKantrow wrote, “Show us a big-deal TV journalist who hasn’t sat on or moderated a panel either organized by, sponsored by, or sitting alongside people they cover or people who advertise and we’ll show you a useful stock pick gleaned from watching CNBC. Ink-stained wretches aren’t immune from this either. Fortune magazine, for example, puts on several conferences each year (The Leadership Forum, The Global Forum, etc., etc.), where many of its editors and reporters share the podium with both sources and advertisers. (The Deal, like many media companies, is also in the conference business.) But nobody ever claims these activities compromise the journalists’ integrity or turn journalists into marketing tools.

“Ironically, much of the Bartiromo brouhaha has taken place as evidence of the ‘cozy’ relationships many journalists have with their sources couldn’t be on clearer display. More than 200 journalists, Bartiromo included, have just returned from Davos, Switzerland, where they spent a week trying desperately to do the very thing for which Bartiromo is being tarred and feathered — cavorting with the high-powered people they cover. The New York Times, for example, had at least eight people in Davos blogging for its Dealbook Web site, as well as a slew of columnists, including Floyd Norris, Nicholas Kristof, David Brooks and panel-moderator Tom Friedman, rubbing elbows with the world’s elite.

“We’re pretty sure the Times contingent, like other journalists there, flew to Davos at their employers’ expense. But what about all those lavish parties that are the lifeblood of Davos? Will media outlets be reimbursing McKinsey & Co., or PricewaterhouseCoopers or Google Inc. or the other Davos corporate party-throwers for the canapes and champagne their journalists downed as they searched for celebrities? OK, munching on a cocktail shrimp is not the same thing as hitching a ride on a corporate jet, but for many of the reporters roaming around Davos, it’s about as glamorous as their lives will get. Should they be doing it on some corporation’s dime?”

Read more here.

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