Vitug Vlogs: 'Take the money and talk?'
MANILA, Philippines - Rappler’s editor at large Marites Vitug talks about the gray zone in media ethics when it comes to journalists being paid speakers’ fees.
Here’s her video blog.
In my most recent blog, I wrote about the gray zone in media ethics -- situations that are tricky to navigate, like accepting free trips from news sources.
Thanks to Media Nation, we've started a momentum in discussing this sensitive issue.
So here's one more gray area.
Many times, journalists are invited by corporations, NGOs, government and international agencies to speak at their conferences. Some of them pay speaker's fees, from a high of P25,000 to a low of P5,000.
Others merely give gifts.
For their part, TV anchors are asked to emcee corporate events. The fees here are apparently much more generous.
Some say this seems to be a fair exchange. We get paid for a certain service and, most of the time, the speakers' fees are minimal.
Questions creep in when the sponsor happens to be part of the journalist's beat and when it pays a huge amount.
In the US, some scoff at this practice, especially because celebrity journalists are paid mammoth speakers' fees, say, $35,000 for an hour or so. Big corporations pick up the tab.
As the American Journalism Review wrote, do we simply "take the money and talk?"
The rule here is to disclose this to one's editors. It's up to the news organization to come up with standards that will not hurt its credibility and that of its staff members.