When Anne Thompson posted a story on Thompson On Hollywood last week questioning whether entertainment bloggers follow journalistic rules she had no intention of opening a Pandora’s box. Nor did she mean to call out, or deride James Rocchi, a freelance entertainment writer and critic whose work appears on MSN and in Mother Jones magazine. But, by suggesting that today’s entertainment bloggers may not share the same journalistic ethics as their mainstream media counterparts, Anne highlighted an issue that few in the industry like to discuss.
What happens when a studio or network pays for a journalist to travel to cover a film or show, especially when that trip is to an exotic location like Bora Bora? Should the journalist disclose the means behind their coverage to readers, or are readers smart enough to figure it out on their own? Does such activity influce the journalist’s critical review?
Based on the number of lengthy comments from well known journalists and industry influencers that appear on Anne’s post, Full Disclosure: Bloggers Break Rules, it is safe to say that people have very strong and passionate opinions on thte topic. That’s why we asked Anne to join us along with James for a special episode of Showbiz Sandbox to talk about her post at length.
We discuss James’ recent trip to Bora Bora to cover “Couple’s Retreat” as well as the tradition of studios and networks to hold such lavish press events. Freelance entertainment writer Michael Giltz firmly believes that participating in such trips comprimises any true journalist, whereas James believes it is just a tool provided by the studio which assists him in completing the assignment he is paid for. Coming from a background as a traditional journalist, Anne sees the issue living in a huge gray area. Karen Woodward was so overwhelmed by the whole converation she hid behind her mute button.
The debate that ensues is lively and at times quite heated (to put it mildly). It’s well worth listening to if only to learn what the Taco Bell Curve is all about and whether you should stop reading some of your favorite online media outlets.
What are your own thoughts on the issue.? Please leave your comments below, email us or leave us a voicemail. We’ll read and listen to some of them on our next episode.