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Thrillist Responds to Blog Swarm Over Weekend Junket

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[Bloggers & journalists throwing down on sponsors' dime, via RandomNightOut]

In the debate about journalism ethics after Thrillist’s Jet Mystery junket last week, there were no flies on the company or sponsors. The disclaimer, that a few journalists didn’t match up with their contracts, clearly gives the option to pay for the trip (the text is visible in Gawker’s scan of the invite):

“Media rates are available for reporters who feel obliged to pay for the trip: tell us if you’re interested and we’ll let you know what they are.”

We checked in with Thrillist Director of Communications Flavie Bagnol who told us the same blow-back happened last year, and put perspective on the blog swarm. “People are digging into this to make it something that it is not,” she said. “I think The New York Times has much bigger fish to fry than looking into the life of a freelance journalist who was not even covering the trip.”

Bagnol also pointed out that the journalist partly responsible for igniting the swarm, did the same thing last year after their Vegas launch junket, “Jeff Bercovici seems to love the topic–or lacks imagination.”

More after the jump:


Compare Bercovici’s two pieces here:

Portfolio.com, 2008: CNN, Fox Crack Down on Junketeers

DailyFinance.com, 2009: Ethics takes a holiday: Newsweek, New York Times writers in swag orgy

Meanwhile, The Awl is compiling a list of people who took the mystery tour to Jamaica, because it’s “useful to have on the record.”

We too noticed Newsweek‘s Kurt Soller was on the guest list, and yes it wasn’t hard to find out. It was in PRNewser before the plane took off.

While this mass junket wasn’t squarely about tourism PR, the extent of the freebies, as well as proximity with news of the FTC’s schwag rules, were reasons for the backlash.

We also talked to one seasoned travel journalist who declined to be named. This person told us that decent pieces for lifestyle sections could never be written without freebies. And, went on to say that newspaper editors in fact, always tout ethics and yet turn a blind eye if a more exotic location can be covered.

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