Monday, May 19, 2008

Journalism, Free Stuff and Ethics

In journalism school we were taught never to accept free stuff from anyone so as not to compromise our objectivity. At the first paper I worked for we were warned never to accept anything at all. We couldn't even allow anyone to buy us a soda for fear of becoming impartial or appearing to be so. Well, I'm not with a newspaper anymore- I got something free!

I write for BellaOnline, the second-largest site for women. One of the benefits of writing for Bella is supposed to be getting free crap from people who want the items reviewed. I've been happily writing for the site for eight months without getting anything free- until today. I was sent a free book to review for the Bella Classic Rock site. Ha! Does getting a free, pristine hardcover book mean that I have to review it positively? Hell no. I'll read through it and say what I think of it. I may be accepting free stuff but I still have a few journalistic ethics floating around in this little head.

In news that's probably a little more important than my free book, Thomson Reuters is downsizing 140 journalists. If you look at the article closely, you will see that Reuters has clearly gone insane. Papers and news agencies always think that the reporters aren't as necessary to the operation as the support people. They are cutting 140 jobs but creating 50 new ones in "web video." So I'm thinking, hey- they will probably do what my last paper did and hire tons of sales people because they think it'll boost revenue. Nope. They also cut hundreds of sales jobs.

Great. So they'll have fewer reporters, fewer sales people and will rely on "more commentary and analysis" for revenue. Personally, I'm sick of commentary. Everybody thinks they have to comment on the news all time. Can't we just have news without all the comments? Oh, I think I just commented on the news...


hmjenck said...

Good comments on something I've been thinking about lately. I'll be finished with my Bella training this week. Hope I pass!

L. Shepherd said...

I'm sure you will! They give you all the tools you need to pass everything and to keep your Bella site running smoothly.

I took a look at some of your special education articles. They look great- very informative, but the links at the bottom aren't clickable. They'll be easier to get to if readers can click them.