This week in NYC I was interviewed by Ken Li at Reuters. Ken had already done a funny post in the Reuters blog about me at the Sun Valley conference. During this interview we ran into one of those situations where the ethics of journalism may be compromised.

I brought a FON Router to show Ken during the interview and leave behind so he could test it at home, but then the issue came up that this could be interpreted as a gift to a journalist and, therefore, lead to a favorable story on FON. Still we find a way to fix this. Ken forked out $5 and bought the Fon router! Then, while at the Nokia event, I found out that Ken and I had been way too concerned as journalists who attend the Nokia launches get $500 multimedia handsets and other gadgets. Personally, I tend to side with the journalists here. If journalists do not get gagdets for free, how are they going to get to own them, test them and write about them? They would spend their whole salaries in gadgets as most are not $5 Fon routers.


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Lawyer on September 28, 2006  · 

So, car journalists should get a Prosche or a Ferrari so they can test them, right?
Policies litke Nokia’s is another way to buy journalists favorable opinions, and we must admit that’s not very clean.
An ethical behavour is to receive the product, test it, then return it to the company.

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Martin Varsavsky on September 28, 2006  · 

Well, Ken Li paid for it!

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Anonymous on October 2, 2006  · 

The problem is not with Ken Li.
As Lawyer said, it is Nokia’s (or FON’s) policy that matters.
FON’s policy (and Nokia’s) should be like Lawyer describes, have journalist test something to write a review, then return the product.
Interesting to see your concern, even more intersting to see your conclusion. Ethics is difficult…

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