NYT Tech Columnist Violates Ethical Journalism Policies, Gets Wrist Slapped

New York Times tech columnist David Pogue

New York Times tech columnist David Pogue is in a tiny bit of trouble with management after getting paid to give a speech at the Consumer Electronics Association’s “CEO Summit” on Friday, NYTpicker reports.

NYT rep Catharine Mathis says the speech violated the Times’s Ethical Journalism policies, but that since David isn’t a full-time staffer, the company can’t ask him to return his fees.

“We have no authority to do so,” the rep told NYTpicker via email. “While we could deny him future assignments, we have no plans to do so.”

David, meanwhile, told NYTpicker he doesn’t think he did anything wrong.

Well, the Times ethics book says you can’t accept speaking fees unless it’s for “educational or other nonprofit groups for which lobbying and political activity are not a major focus.”

The group for whom I spoke, the CEA, is indeed a nonprofit, educational organisation. But is lobbying a “major focus?”

Less than 5 per cent of its staff and resources has to do with lobbying (they have 3 lobbyists on staff among 150 employees). Meanwhile, 90 per cent of the CEA’s staff and budget are dedicated to research, education and, of course, the gigantic Consumer Electronics Show.

Nonetheless, I’ve agreed to run future speaking requests by my editors before accepting them.

In May, The New York Times (NYT) forced op-ed columnist Thomas Friedman to return a $75,000 check he got for speaking to the San Francisco Bay Area’s Air Quality Management District.

Photo: randal-schwartz

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