Free food, unmarked bills and sexual favours

images.jpegThese items, it seems, are the way to a journalist’s heart claims this story from The Guardian. The piece infers that an experienced hack from the New York Post accepted food and ‘payments’ from Nello’s restaurant, haunt of various celebs including Lyle Lovett, Robin Williams, Charlize Theron and Jessica Simpson. Also alluded to are reports that a newspaper Editor-in-Chief condoned the accepting of freebies as a method of restricting newspaper expenses (just imagine the salary rise negotiation chat…”We can’t offer you any more cash, but how does surf ‘n’ turf plus a regular rub and a tug sound?” And in true PR disaster irony, the journo concerned is a long-standing gossip columnist named Richard Johnson.

But, wait, shock horror! A journo accepting hospitality surely isnt headline news is it? If so, I’ve got to turn myself in as an accomplice for variously lunching with ’em and inviting them to comp’d restaurant and sports events. Once, when arranging a four-stadium tour for a major football event, I had a journo phone and unashamedly badger and berate me as to why he had to be included in the press posse. I know freelance journos who’re so meagerly paid that they live for the free PR ski trips to Colorado, the auto test drives in the Med and the resort reviews in the Maldives. So who has to stop this practice; PR’s or journos?

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