New study finds cash for coverage runs rampant around the world

McLEAN, VA: According to a new survey by the International Public Relations Association, paying for editorial coverage is a common practice in Russia, Southern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

McLEAN, VA: According to a new survey by the International Public Relations Association, paying for editorial coverage is a common practice in Russia, Southern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

The IPRA, in a recent survey of PR professionals in 52 countries, found that 63% of respondents from Russia said bribing journalists for coverage is common there. The Russians call this practice "zakazukha."

The figure in Southern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East was 60%.

However, it was lower in Asia, North America, Australia, and Western Europe.

As well as straight payments in exchange for editorial coverage, other practices, such as trading coverage for advertising, payment to third parties who influence media coverage, and paying outlets not to run negative stories, are also common.

In South and Central America, 59% of survey respondents said material appears in print that results from advertising without being identified as such. In Eastern Europe, the figure was 52%, in Africa and the Middle East 47%, and 40% in Australia. It's less common in North America, where 27% of respondents see it happening.

Frank Ovaitt, cochair of the IPRA's campaign for media transparency, advised PR people around the globe to resist unethical media requests.

"How would you like to see what you did described on the front page of The New York Times? he asked. "It's one of those issues where we all need to stick together."

Ovaitt is also cochair of the Institute for Public Relations, where he is developing an international index of bribery in the media. He hopes to use the index to rank countries each year, and show whether - and where - progress is being made.

See Editorial and Thought Leader, p. 8.

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