OLD Media Moves

NY Times tech writer has ethical lapse

April 5, 2006

New York Times online tech columnist David Pogue, who also contibutes to CBS News, is being scolded for accepting an online service without paying for it. At first, he defended his actions, noting that was accepted practice.

SF Weekly writer Matt Smith wrote, “Last month Pogue embarrassed his blue-chip media employers by accepting $2,000 in services from a news source, then claiming this was in line with these news organizations’ ordinary practice. He then did himself one stunt better after the blogosphere lit up last month over a column I wrote about his freebie deal. Pogue called in to a CNET podcast in an attempt to defend his behavior. Again, he kicked blame upstairs, suggesting to listeners that until my column came along these news organizations had no problem with his brand of high-dollar swag.”

Later, he wrote, “Pogue then suggested the New York Times, the original home of his data retrieval story, had no ethical policy in place that would have addressed his freebie deal. ‘So the bottom line is,’ he said, ‘the Times has no policy on services. I can send you copies of the ethical guidelines, and there’s absolutely no reference to what to do about reviewing services. This has now been deemed an oversight.’

“I referred Times spokeswoman Diane McNulty to a recording of the CNET podcast. Speaking specifically about the previous statement, she said, ‘David Pogue had apparently misunderstood the policy if he thought it allowed him to review a technical service without paying for it, and his editor told him so.’

“McNulty added that the official policy will be modified. The Times will place the single word ‘services’ in the text to prevent any journalists from somehow thinking there existed a service loophole to the no-gift rule.”

Read the rest here. Pogue writes the “Circuits” column for the Times.

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