According to Politico, the publisher of the Washington Post was planning to sell access to elite government officials and its reporters and editors to lobbyists. The event is now canceled after a flier leaked offering to deliver the paper’s “health care reporting and editorial staff.” Blame fell on the marketing department for “misrepresenting” the event but they didn’t say how the marketeers could completely disregard consideration of issues like journalistic integrity. Points for imaginative monetization but this can’t be the way to save the foundering newspaper business model.
Once again, people we would like to trust display jaw-dropping gall – are they abusing our trust, or ignorant, or incompetent? Somehow by leaving the details vague these things fade away. One wonders if at a planning meeting a junior person timidly asked about the ethical aspect of this effort, or questioned if this idea might be misconstrued possibly …
By way of a footnote just to how what an environment of commercialism news reporting exists within, I noted an odd double underlining of the word “administration” in the Politico piece lead: an ad pops up offering healthcare insurance.
Update: The publisher has issued a resounding apology letter to readers. Apparently despite policy against selling access off the record, that’s what almost happened. Blame is squarely placed on “the flier” as if it somehow emerged on its own and caused a terrible misunderstanding.