Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Journalism's most dubious prize?

Steven Staples blogging on

Le Devoir reporter pockets $2500 prize from defence lobby

by Steven Staples

Here’s a clue as to why the war is receiving such poor coverage in the media.

This week Le Devoir's military affairs reporter, Alec Castonguay, was announced as the recipient of the Conference of Defence Associations’ Ross Munro Media Award. Mr. Castonguay will receive the award, including a $2500 cash prize, at a ceremony in November.

Why is such a well respected newspaper like Le Devoir willing to permit a reporter accept a large cash prize from a lobby group like the Conference of Defence Associations, especially when the CDA received $500,000 over five years from the Department of National Defence through an agreement that requires the group to receive media coverage in return for the funding?

I raised this with Mr. Castonguay. He had lots of good reasons why he should take the money. But I still think Le Devoir readers deserve better. (link)

In an earlier piece, Staples did some digging around on the question:

[I]f you work for a major U.S. defence publication like the respected Defense News, and you accept any kind of gift from the defence lobby - you might be fired for a breach of ethics!

I asked Theresa Hitchens, former editor of Defense News, whether its reporters could accept an award like the CDA’s Ross Munro Media Award. Here is what she said:

"When I was there, we had a STRICT policy against such activities - and I believe it would have been grounds for dismissal. We even had a policy that said if someone from industry takes you out to lunch, you have to reciprocate on [Defense News] dime." ... (link)


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