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What Ethics?

WaPo's Sponsorship Misstep

Has the media world gone mad? The Washington Post’s Andrew Alexander dissects the sponsorship scandal unraveling at his own paper. Earlier this month, off-the-record “salon” events discussing public policy issues were being peddled by the paper. For $25,000, underwriters could sit with lawmakers, administration officials, think tank experts, and business leaders, with the paper’s publisher Katharine Weymouth and Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli serving as hosts. It appears that others inside the newsroom worried about the news personnel in off-the-record settings, effectively charging for access to them, and, Alexander writes, the general manager of the Washington Post Conferences and Events business may be partially to blame. Charles Pelton apparently greenlit the flier— exposed by Politico in early July—that said participants could “build crucial relationships with Washington Post news executives in a neutral and informal setting” although high-level editors also weighed in with their thoughts, though no one took action until controversy erupted.

July 12, 2009 1:15 PM