Groups endorse policies to stop bribery of media

NEW YORK: The Institute for Public Relations (IPR) and five other global media organizations have announced their support of a number of principles aimed at ending the practice of bribing journalists.

NEW YORK: The Institute for Public Relations (IPR) and five other global media organizations have announced their support of a number of principles aimed at ending the practice of bribing journalists.

The principles, which were set out in the International Public Relations Association's (IPRA) 2001 Charter on Media Transparency, call for greater transparency in showing where payment is involved in coverage that might be mistaken for objective editorial coverage.

The announcement continues an ongoing effort to raise awareness of the media bribery issue. It follows the release of an index by IPR and IPRA last year that ranked the countries where bribery of the media is most likely to occur.

For the most part, bribery is much more common in Asia and the Middle East, the study found. China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Bangladesh topped the list.

"People who practice PR in the US probably haven't encountered it, but it's a fairly common practice in other places," said Frank Ovaitt, president and CEO-elect of IPR. "Bribery corrupts the media and makes it less valuable to PR professionals."

While cash for coverage is much less of an issue with media in the US and other Western countries, some subtle yet potentially dangerous trends have emerged to threaten lines between editorial and advertising. One example Ovaitt mentioned is trade publications demanding that the companies they cover pay for color separations in photos.

The principles supported cover not only outright bribes but also policies regarding gifts to journalists and the labeling of sponsored copy as advertising.

The other organizations that support the principles are the International Press Institute, the International Federation of Journalists, Transparency International, and the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management.

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