Getting Paid For It

Friday, December 12, 2008


Journalists know so much about what they cover that they're often experts. Dan Abrams, former General Manager of MSNBC, is launching Abrams Research which seeks to hook up eligible journos with paid consulting gigs. Bob asks Abrams about the ethical issues that arise when capitalizing on journalistic expertise.
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Comments [6]

Matt from Arlington, Virginia

This segment needed a disclaimer....

Bob Garfield: "- because then I don't know what his motives are for any single thing he does -"

Upon hearing this, I think all five Republicans that listen to your show while driving thought about media bias. They instinctively, as if playing charades with OTM through the radio, touched one finger to their nose while pointing at the radio ... and got into an accident.

Dec. 16 2008 12:18 AM
CS from Washington, D.C.

Abrams is missing the point -- on purpose, it would seem. The issue isn't whether journalists should make money. The issue is whether the journalist can remain independent in the face of the web of interests Abrams' plan would create. And the answer is: They can't. People wonder why journalists have a credibility problem. Abrams is part of the reason why. Reporting can't be independent if a journalist is enmeshed in the conflicts Abrams would create. The answer for someone who wants to "make money" is to make a choice: Be an independent journalist, or leave journalism and be upfront about it.

Dec. 15 2008 08:42 PM
Tim from NYC

I think he is looking for journalist who have as much experience in the world of journalism as he has in trying a case in a real courtroom... which, from what I understand is none.

Dec. 14 2008 09:45 PM
Cynthia Stine from Dallas

Another reporter anguishing about reporters going over to the "dark side" of PR. I get tired of these stories that portray PR people (oh yes, that's you Abrams no matter what you want to tell yourself...guess what? PR people do research, too) as the devil and antithesis of "honest journalism." Yes, we have an agenda, we're paid to represent our clients - like attorneys. That doesn't mean we're going promote stories we don't believe in, or tell lies on command. Our job primarily is to help our clients understand what makes a good news story so they can communicate better with reporters. PR people are often deplored by the media and yet, they rely on us to provide access to high level executives, breaking news stories and (gasp) research of all kinds to help support their stories. I am proud that most of my team are former journalists who work with me because they feel I understand the news media and I don't ask them to betray their ethics to make a buck. I laughed at some of Bob's questions because I'm doing the same -- looking for good journalists to help out my clients -- and had no idea I was apparently corrupting innocent reporters.

Dec. 14 2008 07:51 PM
chuck thompson from Anchorage, AK

I still haven't decided my feelings on the ethical challenges involved in Abrams' entrepreneurial endeavor, but when Dan said "this is why it has to be taken on a case by case basis... because there is no blanket rule that can apply..." I swear I heard alarm bells go off.

Ewww. I don't like the sound of that.
I like rules.

I especially like rules when it comes to those entrusted with our national well-being, be it journalism, government or -- as we now know was a pretty "rule-less" place -- Wall Street.

To suggest we just "play it by ear," in the arena of journalistic standards sounds like an invitation to mischief we can barely begin to imagine.

Let's not and say we did.

Dec. 14 2008 07:23 PM

Dan Abrams is sitting on both sides of the argument. He thinks his idea is great because he can get the very experienced former Houston Chronicle writer who has been writing on the oil industry for over a decade, but apparently he only plans to recruit people who have written a single op-ed piece and are thus not conflicted. But that would undercut the experience argument. It was incredibly frustrating to listen to him because he kept avoiding the issue of conflicts by bringing up the atypical narrative of the single piece op-ed writer. I highly doubt his experienced media veterans are going to come solely or largely from unseasoned writers.

Dec. 14 2008 10:49 AM

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