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Gifts and circumstances

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by JayFarrar, Apr 25, 2007.

  1. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    Via Romenesko

    I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand I see the paper's point you don't ever take gifts, but on the other, dude lost everything in a house fire and many people in the community reached out to help. At the time one person who gave money was on the reporter's beat. A couple of years, another person who had helped by connecting the reporter with a charity to get used clothes for the his kid, was elected to the city council.
    At one point does common sense say you shouldn't have done that, but you don't have to quit, lets put you somewhere else at the paper.
  2. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I don't know, Jay. Taking things from the people you cover is a pretty basic no-no, regardless of the circumstances.
  3. BillySixty

    BillySixty Member

    This is a pretty unusual circumstance and one that hopefully we any of us will not have to face.

    I think accepting money/gifts from people you cover is generally a no-no. In this case, I'm not too sure. The reporter probably should have tried to pay him back right away, in my opinion. Still, it seems iffy.
  4. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    Or I suppose you could put it this way:

  5. Rockbottom

    Rockbottom Well-Known Member

    According to some folks on the "Your thoughts on this one" thread, taking hundreds in school-issued an logoed wear AND wearing it on the sidelines is no problem.

  6. Xsportschick

    Xsportschick Member

    I think the key ethical issue, beyond the very basics, has to do with dates:

    I can see people in a small town reaching out to help anyone affected by a major crisis. But the repayment? Too long in coming, interest or not. And after said crisis, the reporter should not have been covering benefactors.
  7. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    Anyone who wanted to help financially could have done so by making a donation to a local organization, earmarking it for the reporter, and asking that the donor's name remain anonymous.

    This is a common sense 'no way.'
  8. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    My understanding from reading the article was the city councilman who gave the money was later elected mayor.
    The reporter did a recent article critical of the mayor, who then told the reporter something along the lines of why aren't you nice to me? I was nice to you. Don't you remember when I gave you some money after your house burned down.
    It was at that point that the reporter became concerned and told his editors and tried to pay the money back.
    What the article doesn't say is what kind of effort was put together after the house fire. Did the paper run articles, did it create a fund, how much money did the reporter get from it.
    I could see a case where if you got thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, you might not have noticed where all the money came from.
    The other thing, with the used clothes, in the South we call that being neighborly.
    I worked with a guy once and his house got destroyed by a tornado. His was one of several in a small town. Lots of people, from his church to folks in the area helped out by giving food, money, diapers, all sorts of stuff. Some of it was from people he likely covered but I don't think anyone did it to create a favor.
    I just think the paper canned a 17-year veteran for people caring in the community when they could have reassigned him to another beat at the paper.
  9. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    I know a lot of folks at this shop, but not this reporter. And I've worked with the EE before. Tough situation, but as was pointed out earlier, he got this money four years ago and was just now going to try to repay it? We in this business walk a very thin line and have to be careful.
  10. Dale Cooper

    Dale Cooper Member

    I'd agree with everyone that the $500 is a big no-no. Regarding the other aspect, it just sounds like a public official helped hook him up with the kind of charity he needed. I don't see that as a problem.
  11. Meat Loaf

    Meat Loaf Guest

    If my house burns down and I lose everything I own, I'm taking anything I can. My paper sure as shit wouldn't give me a helping hand. Sometimes, you have to take whatever you can get. If it's that big of an issue, there are always other jobs to take (and they'd probably pay better anyway).

    Survival is No. 1.
  12. Two big questions are unanswered by this story.
    First, how much insurance did the guy have? How much did it really hurt him (financially) when his house burned down? To me, that makes a big difference.
    Also, why didn't he tell his superiors about the handouts at the time. It might have been a different situation if he had said, "Hey, I need some help and these people are offering it. Can I accept?" Maybe he gets the money but changes beats.
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