Wednesday, September 14, 2005

ETHICS; Journalism

SF Examiner and Independent end payola restaurant reviews

San Francisco newspapers The Examiner and the Independent agreed
Friday to label as advertising a regular restaurant news column the
newspapers had used to reward advertisers and solicit ads from eating
establishments. The announcement, by Executive Editor Vivienne
Sosnowski, came in response to queries by Grade the News about George
Habit, a dining columnist whose articles appeared several times each
week in the newspapers. Mr. Habit's columns were presented as news and
he was identified as a journalist under the byline "special to the
Examiner," or just "Independent Newspapers." In reality, Mr. Habit is
an ad salesman, not a journalist. His column, he said in an earlier
interview, is designed not to help consumers make informed dining
choices, but to reward advertisers and entice new business from
restaurants that have yet to sign an ad contract. "Yes, I use the
column as an initiative to get advertisers to run an ad," Mr. Habit
said. "The paper gives me a free rein." Source: John McManus, Grade
the News

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