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Postrel, to NYT: Drop the Ethics Absurdity, Hire Good People, and Disclose

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Former Reason editor Virginia Postrel explains why she's ineligible to work for The New York Times, and what that might mean for the future of journalism:

Is that the young Bob Hoskins playing Bill Kovach?

I occasionally do paid speaking for companies that might conceivably be sources for a column on innovation. (Those speaking engagements generally pay quite a bit better than writing for the Times.) As an old journalism pro, I naturally know enough not to take a speaking gig and then turn it into an article, at least not without getting my editor's OK and disclosing any potential conflict to readers. But that's no longer enough for the Times. Its ethics guidelines now prohibit freelancers from taking honoraria or even travel expenses from anyone who might, in some theoretical future state of the world, be a source. In October, "Critical Shopper" columnist Mike Albo, a freelancer, was canned for taking a travel junket that had nothing to do with his NYT gig. […]

To fill the PROTOTYPE slot, the Times turned, as it does increasingly for business and economics coverage, to someone who wouldn't care about its low article fees or nonexistent reporting expenses: a tenured professor with an academic research budget, in this case, Mary Tripsas of the Harvard Business School. She is an expert on innovation, but a journalistic innocent. And now she's in trouble.

Whole story, including some (free!) advice to the Gray Lady, here. Postrel's Reason archive here.

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