Is this ethical journalism?
It’s in our nature to want to communicate. Most of us anyway. Whether or not we’re any good at it. All the books, press articles, TV shows,radio broadcasts, podcasts, tweets, facebook updates and blog posts that we churn out are there to be seen or read or heard.
But how do you get people to watch or listen? How do you gain access to the mainstream media to get your idea or story across?
Here’s a guy who’s offering what looks like a bribe to radio station presenters and producers to book him for interviews. I say it looks like a bribe. It may not be. You decide.
Here’s part of his spiel:
win two round trip tickets to new york city from anyplace in the world…
i have been talking to folks at radio stations for 25 years and i have decided i want one of you radio people to come to new york city as my guest. it can be either the on air person or the producer who books the segment.effective immediately, here is the deal: each time i am telephoned for an on air report during 2011 an index card with the name of the broadcaster (who talks to me on air) and an index card with the name of the producer (who actually booked the segment) will be placed in a sealed box. in the first week of january 2012 one index card will be drawn from the box and that person will be the winner.the prize is two round trip tickets to new york city from any place in the world and a full day tour (7 hours) with me. any additional charges like airport departures, baggage, or anything else the airline dreams up is your responsibility. i will just supply the two tickets.
He’s Peter Franklin, aka the Gabby Cabby. I know from personal experience that when interviewed, he gives good value in his entertaining takes on life in New York City to foreign media outlets. And a pair of free tickets to NYC is certainly appealing.
But could such an overt financial incentive backfire? Might a journalist or producer bridle at such a clear ‘come on’? Might they hesitate to put editorial values second to what could be in it for them?
What if you won? Would the prize suddenly become a mark of shame? Would you have to keep your free trip a secret? Or could this be the way of the future – payola for access?
It’ll be interesting to see what response there is from media producers to the Gabby Cabby’s offer.
But anyway, is there really any need for him to sweeten the deal for a media producer when the offering is already so strong? After all, as Humbert Wolfe said:
You cannot hope to bribe or twist
(thank God!) the British journalist.
But, seeing what the man will do
unbribed, there’s no occasion t0.
(Feel free to replace “the British” with the words “any kind of”. And yeah, yeah, I’m not saying they’re all bad. Some are admirable.)