Cheat-Seeking Missles

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

When Blogs Take Goodies

This lead in Conde Naste's media publication, Portfolio, caught my eye:
Last week, I was surprised to learn that reporters from CNN, Fox News, the New York Post, the New York Daily News and the Huffington Post had all been allowed to go on an all-expenses-paid junket to Las Vegas, courtesy of JetBlue and Thrillist, and had taken home gift bags containing, among other swag, a shiny new Microsoft Zune (retail cost: $150 to $300). Don't any of those organizations have rules against journalists taking freebies?
The article then goes on to post the excuses (good or otherwise) received from CNN, Fox News, and the two NY tabloids. CNN and Fox said the junket violated their policies and claim to have returned the gift bags and reimbursed the junket organizer (Thrillist says no cash has come their way yet). The Post and News squabbled and pointed fingers at each other. Par for the course.

But no mention was made in the article of HuffPo's reaction. Were they not asked? Do they have a policy? Do they enforce it? Who knows? The blogosphere is the wild frontier when it comes to ethics.

Well, here's the resulting story, by Vreena von Pfetten, and it turns out she disclosed the freebie in the third graf:
In any case, [Thrillist's] big Vegas launch plus a very generous partnership with JetBlue means a plane full of "media types" (who, just like me, had no qualms about getting on a free flight to Vegas complete with gift bag and all - though, to be fair, some of the more ethically concerned, like CNet's Caroline McCarthy, paid their own way) ...
Jet Blue and Thrillist got a few plugs, readers got what appears to be an attempt at entertainment, though I'm still not at all sure what von Pfetten's purpose is, and the blogosphere continued expanding and reinventing itself.

I would be more comfortable with a strict no freebie policy, which I no doubt will enact if anyone is ever foolish generous enough to offer me gifts, thinking a C-SM mention is the key to whatever marketing conundrum they're facing.

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