1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Thank you gifts from sources

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by copperpot, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. copperpot

    copperpot Well-Known Member

    I never know how to handle this. I wrote a story last week about two local artists. They didn't solicit it -- I happened to stumble on a website of their work and contacted them. One just came by to say thank you and brought some baked goods as well as a pair of earrings she had hand crafted. Are these things OK to accept?

    Thanks for the feedback.
  2. MTM

    MTM Well-Known Member

    Some may say no, but we have to use discretion.

    I wrote an article about a man who had a high school stadium named after him and his son, who came from out of state for the dedication, asked me to lunch after it ran, and he paid and gave me his self-published book.

    Although I probably shouldn't have let him pay, I didn't want to insult him and graciously accepted both.

    I wouldn't have accepted either from a regular source, but since this was a onetime thing, I had no problem with it.
  3. dpfunk78

    dpfunk78 Guest

    You have to make a judgement call based on whether or not accepting a gift would or could create bias (or perceived bias) in the future. If you ever plan on working with the source again, I say you shouldn't accept anything.

    If you're never going to write about this person again, though, use your own judgement. In all grey areas, I'd refuse all gifts.
  4. beanpole

    beanpole Member

    There's nothing wrong with putting the food out for everyone to share. I wouldn't accept the earrings, although some shops collect all such gifts and give them away to staff monthly or quarterly in a blind drawing.

    There are plenty on here, however, that will tell you to grab all the freebees you can get. ::)
  5. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    In most cases, the people intend it to be a harmless, nice gesture and it's a gift that comes from the heart. For the time it takes to explain it and the likelihood of insulting them for refusing, in most cases, I'd say accept the baked goods or trinkets and enjoy them... or give them to a family member or charity if need be.

    If it's an ongoing relationship, you probably want to be cautious about what you accept and what other people perceive of that gift - and if it's a corporate or team logo item, you really want to pick your spots.
  6. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Generally speaking, a policy of accepting no gifts is probably best. On the other hand, if it would be a personal insult to decline a gift -- specifically, a token gift of minimal value such as some baked goodies -- then go ahead and accept it.

    If you absolutely have to decline a gift, then be overly polite about it. Don't spout dogma ("it's against our policy"), just treat the giver the way you'd want to be treated ("this is wonderful, thank you, but we're not allowed to accept gifts"). Put the onus on the company; don't make the giver feel bad about their actions.

    Overall, consider the intent. A flower arrangement from a developer grateful for a publicity should be returned. A basket of daisies from a reader delighted that you noticed his 100th birthday doesn't need to be.

    Gifts coming from a company or a publicist -- where it's obvious they're currying favor -- ought to be returned or donated their gift to charity, along with a note.

    Two newsrooms ago, I was part of the committee that helped write an ethics policy. It mostly consisted of common sense -- treating people kindly, thinking about how the public might perceive your decisions -- but there was one entry that I was most proud of:

    Perishables, by nature, don't need to be donated to charity. Food may be offered up for newsroom consumption, within reason.
  7. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    This, wholeheartedly.

    I'm curious as to what everyone thinks about the possibility of copperpot actually going to the artist and offering to pay for the earrings? I would assume CP is done writing about the artist, so I think that would be acceptable. Otherwise, I would probably return the earrings while paying full compliments to the craftsmanship, just as reformedhack suggested.

    If there's a good chance you'll be writing about this woman regularly, though, you simply can't accept the earrings at all and probably shouldn't have accepted the baked goods, either.
  8. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Someone told me that Butch Davis sent Omaha steaks to all of the University of Miami beat writers one year. I heard only one of them refused the gift.

    One year, I got a gift in the mail. I opened the card and saw that it was signed by the coach who I covered, a very prominent hoops coach.

    I got really nervous because I was dreading the possibility of having to give it back.

    It turned out to be a bobblehead... Of him...

    It took me hours to stop laughing...
  9. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    I've received a few T-shirts. I'd rather receive a gift card to Chili's.
  10. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    At some point we really need to step back, though, and realize that there's a lot of space between the Poynter-style Big J ethics commandments and the real world.

    The reality is, if you reject baked goods, you are going to be written off as an impossibly rude asshole. And honestly, the hand-crafted earrings, unless they are of a particularly high value, are tough ones to say no to as well.

    There's a big fat difference between, say, the politician offering suite tickets for the bowl game and the artist who baked cookies for you.
  11. finishthehat

    finishthehat Active Member

    I once did a story on a guy -- my idea, not his -- and he got a bunch of business as a result.

    He mailed me a thank you card with $500 cash in it.

    We minutely documented me sending it back, including a photo of the bills being placed in a FedEx envelope.
  12. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    When I covered preps, I did a big takeout on a volleyball player. Her dad worked at the deli of the local supermarket and he sent a deli tray to me at the paper as a thank you. I would have asked my boss if it was OK to keep it, but he was too busy stuffing his face to answer.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page