In just a blink of an eye you can receive a free trip to Hawaii or extra money for writing or unpublishing a story to please someone who asked you.
It is easy to catch a journalist who has plagiarized or is being too subjective in his/her writing. How easy is it to tell if a journalist has accepted a bribe?
SPJ Code of Ethics recommends, “Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.” It is quite a lot to refrain from.
It is not always easy to say ‘no’ to the generous gifts journalists are often offered. Some may surrender to temptation and think they will do it only one time and that’s it. But, once the bribe has been accepted, there is no turning back. Furthermore, if the public gets to know about it, the reputation and trust of a journalist is lost forever.
“There is gold for you. Sell me your good report,” wrote William Shakespeare. Every one of us is vulnerable to bribery, especially because gold “smells” so good.
A fashion journalist, David Graham, who is working for The Toronto Star magazine was offered $300 to delete a story from web archives. The person asking for the favor was even willing to give away 50% of her payment just to get what she asked for. How desperate is that?
“Journalists are not for sale,” explains Toronto Star’s public editor Kathy English. That is what David Graham thought too when he refused to delete the story.
Journalists know that they should always refuse favors. However, according to a recent survey conducted for Prospect Magazine, society still has doubt in journalists. At this point every journalists’ job is to increase their trustworthiness, again and again proving and convincing people that true journalists will never accept bribes.
Here are some important tips to do to avoid this temptation,
• Stay true to yourself, don’t expect a bribe, and don’t give in to anyone.
• Practice and follow the journalism code of ethics.
• Most importantly, remember, your journalism future is at risk.
David Graham didn’t remove the requested article from web. Remember, there may be a story about you accepting a bribe someday and a good journalist will refuse to unpublish it. It will stay there forever and no one wants that.