American “Pay for Play” in Iraqi Press
I was trying to get some work done, and what arrives in my in-box but a link to this story in the “LA Times” about how US military is “secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops.” It made me cringe, and after I recovered, I had to write.
If true, there are some gross ethical issues with this:
1. Paying for articles (this is called usually called ADVERTISING) and should be clearly marked as such. Clearly, the Iraqi press has a way to go in understanding the difference between editorial and advertising.
2. Misrepresentation of sources, passing off a biased source as an unbiased one. Again, the problem with collapsing edit0rial and advertising.
3. Hypocrisy. The very source that supposedly teaching Iraqi journalists democratic principles and the proper role of the press in workshops is pulling this deceptive stunt “behind the scenes.” This is preposterous and needs to be stopped immediately. What happened to well-placed pitching and working with the press to tell your story. It seems that “pay for play' is easier.
Along with the military, the Washington-based Lincoln Group is behind this fraud. On their Website, they call themselves a “stategic communications and public relations firm that works in inhospitable foreign markets. Their claim to fame is that they are “low key” and “unobtrusive.” In fairness to the Iraqi press, they sometimes “pose” as journalists to papers, get hired, then wtite slated stories. It sounds like a tactic they may have also used elsewhere.
When contacted by the LA Times, a Lincoln Group spokesman declined to comment. The number one faux pax for any PR practicioner!
Well, I say, welcome to the light of day Lincoln!