Ethics and Disclosure in Media Reporting
At the cost of sounding monotonous and repetitive, I must refer to another fact of life. Corporates — and for that matter, politicians or anyone in public life — look for "good coverage". When a corporate sponsors a trip by a journalist, it expects some space given for its activities.
The reference the reader made was to an article by Mumbai correspondent Oommen Ninan on a seminar organised by Michelin, the French tyremaker, in Paris. In all such cases, the trip is cleared at the highest level in the paper. And what is published is generally about the work and activities of the firm and not a plug or puff for its product/s. Nobody tells The Hindu's journalists what kind of coverage or assessment they must provide. If the sponsors do not like the coverage that results from the trip, they are under no obligation to invite anyone from the newspaper again.
Product launches, and workshops and seminars on corporate issues are routinely covered as they have news angles. Similar considerations govern reports that are the result of a company-sponsored trip. The correspondents are expected to stick to the paper's policies when they write. There is a further check at the editing stage. Those are the safeguards against "manipulation."
And, after all that, if something slips through the gate, there are hawk-like readers to pounce upon the newspaper!