Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pundit Payola: Most of the mainstream media coverage of the latest payola scandal has focused on ethically-challenged commentator Michael Fumento, perhaps because people expect corporations to behave cynically and buy whatever advantage people are prepared to sell them. But what of Monsanto’s ethical obligations?

If companies are seeking to buy favorable editorial coverage, they are corrupting the media (a violation of the PRSA’s Code of Ethics) and should desist. If there is no intent to corrupt, then they need to remove all doubt about their motivation by insisting in their contracts that commentators disclose any and all financial ties.

In this case, Monsanto should have insisted that Fumento disclose his funding from the company any time he wrote about the biotech sector, in order to protect Monsanto’s reputation; failure to do so should have resulted in a return of the grant as well as the loss of his job.

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