Media still have conflicts of interest

By Zachary Polka

‘Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived,’ as stated in the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics.

Katharine Weymouth, Washington Post publisher, was questioned for a flier promoting a “salon” dinner for as much as $250,000, explained in Mike Allen and Michael Calderone’s article, Washington Post cancels lobbyist event amid uproar.

Promotions and gifts are forbidden on either side, and Weymouth looks to be covering it up.

Weymouth’s grandmother, former Washington Post Publisher Katharine Graham, held such parties in the past to meet in an off-the-record capacity.

Powerful men of the capitol would come together and discuss business and news with media members of the Washington Post.

Recently, fliers circulated to health care lobbyist for a similar meet with The Post’s editorial and heath care reporting staff.  All seemed fine until one lobbyist with a conflict of paying for access to the “health care reporting and editorial staff” gave one flier to a reporter.

With this information widely out, Weymouth reported she planned for the party but didn’t okay the fliers.  So, she was or wasn’t going to charge for the dinners?

Weymouth also said there is a future revenue source in bringing Washington figures together.

(Press secretary Robert Gibbs told New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny that no one at the White House had accepted invitations to Washington Postsalons.”)

Her grandmother did with $25,000 as the bid.

Hey its 2009, since the year has more zeros, why not add some into the price tag.  Honestly, if the goal is to go against policies and ethics, then lets go with a bang.  It’s okay, as long as we don’t get caught!

Freelance Journalist Terry Gardner had a tough time submitting articles on traveling after she donated her hair for a free airline ticket in support of an airline’s promotion.

She advertised an airline on her skull for a few of weeks, and newspapers wouldn’t accept any of her stories from that trip.

If it is hard for a freelance reporter to publish articles referring to traveling on a free trip, why is it fine for the Washington Post to still publish articles related to health care?  Do these practices invoke distrust with other areas of the paper?  With sharp budget cuts and swift layoffs, is it okay for news media to bend their ethics to stay afloat?


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