Is it Unethical for the Media to Accept Money for Attending Events?

I always feel a bit uncomfortable when they pay the media to attend events. For most of the reporters, it’s a bit like being paid twice. After all, it’s their job to be there anyway. And it’s not just for events. If you attend some press conferences you can also get paid money at the end of the event. Anywhere from 500 to 1,000 Baht. This is in addition to any free gifts that they give us and lunch if it is in the middle of the day. For independent bloggers like myself, it is sometimes handy to get some money to attend press conferences. After all, the cost of getting there and back has to come out of our own pocket. But, for the mainstream media, they go in company cars and so are never out of pocket. Today at the end of the Car Free Day event I was given this 500 Baht for attending. Why? It didn’t cost me any money to go as I went on my bicycle. And I would have attended anyway to take pictures for www.Paknam.com. So, I gave my 500 Baht to a student of mine who is in training to cycle to Chiang Mai during the upcoming school holidays. He will need it more than me.

So, what do you think, is this unethical to accept money that is slipped to the media? And where do you draw the line? I have seen politicians do it too when the media go to cover an event that they are participating in. Also, last year when we were following the governor for much of the day on his tour of flood hit areas, he handed out 1,000 Baht notes to everyone. Presumably from his own pocket. I didn’t want it but he insisted and the others said I was stupid not to accept. So, I took it and then gave the money to the Red Cross that was organizing their annual fair at that time. It just didn’t feel right.

8 thoughts on “Is it Unethical for the Media to Accept Money for Attending Events?

  • September 23, 2012 at 12:30 pm
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    It’s all relative. In China, journalists have been paid NOT to cover bad news stories (mine disasters etc.)

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  • September 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm
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    Payments in Thailand may be a question of degree. After all, some reporters (or independents) may not have high wages and a fee for transport could be welcome, but where do you draw the line? So those with or without transport may be given a fee to be fair to all. I cannot say I have ever been given cash, but some companies are generous with transportation (tickets) and hotels: I think that has always been considered acceptable, along with meals. Samples of software in some cases are OK; as is test hardware.

    Largesse from the Governor or others might not be acceptable in another country, but it appears normal here (I wish I could find these events). In that case, the question of ethics is reduced more to a question of conscience.

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  • September 23, 2012 at 1:04 pm
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    It is not ethical to give and even more un ethical to accept it.
    Accepting re inforces the practice and makes one part of the corruption vicious circle!

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  • September 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm
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    Of course it is, it’s unethical. Any event should be fairly reported on for it’s merits alone or you possibly restrict donations to possible needy causes who can’t afford to ‘bribe’ media to report on their events or causes. It’s just another way of restricting those who don’t have and promoting those who have. It also removes money from the cause (not much admittedly, but still less for the cause).

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  • September 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm
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    But, is it bribing? Who benefits here? It was a cycling event. And the last I attended was a press conference for a local festival. These are not big stories. I don’t understand what they gain by it. We will report on the event anyway as it is our job. And, speaking personally, I have never felt under any obligation to say anything nice if I didn’t want to. Just take a look at my blogs. I say it the way I see it. Even if it might upset some people.

    However, I do agree that this money should really be put to better use. There was a lot of media there today. I would say about 20-30 media personnel. Where did this money come from? Is it local government money?

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  • September 23, 2012 at 10:08 pm
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    I say it is wrong. The only currency a journalist has is his/her credibility and when their credibility is in question then there is not much left they have to offer . I am a journalist and I deal with this often . I don’t accept cash nor do I accept the Swag or items that often come in a “goodie bag”. All and all it is wrong. If you were to feel bad standing up at the end of the press confeance and saying laudly thanks for the gift of cash then there is a reason to feel bad about this because it is plain and simple . It is just wrong.

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  • September 24, 2012 at 1:18 pm
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    Seems it’s the Thai way. Chula pays salaried employees to attend meetings – I believe it’s the same payment (500 baht). It assures they turn up, but on a negative side, it means nothing is ever resolved quickly (one meeting leads to another and yet another).

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