Crazy lefties are up in arms about a $2,500 award given to Le Devoir journalist Alec Castonguay by the Conference of Defence Associations, a military lobbying group. J-Source has some more details about the controversy.
The argument is that this award, which is given to journalists who write about military issues, is essentially a bribe for providing the industry with good coverage. The association is hardly going to award journalistic work it considers biased against it, after all. Knowing this, journalists might be tempted to skew their reporting in favour of the industry to boost their chances of getting the award.
Though the motives of the lobbyist group may be honourable, strict ethical standards should force respectable journalists to reject the award and especially any cash associated with it.
But what’s not mentioned is that the CDA’s award is hardly the only cash prize given to journalists by non-journalism industry associations for a specific type of coverage. A quick Google search gives me these:
- The Canadian Institutes of Health Research sponsors $10,000 and $20,000 awards for journalists who write about health research
- The Geological Association of Canada sponsors a $1,000 award for earth science reporting
- The Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum sponsors awards of up to $2,500 to journalists who write articles “which enhance public understanding of the minerals and petroleum industries and its contribution to the economic and social well-being of Canada”
Should we look down upon journalists who receive these awards as well?
My knee-jerk answer is yes. Journalists should be honoured to be recognized for their achievements when judged by their peers. They should be thankful for recognition from industry. But they shouldn’t accept money from non-journalism groups – even non-profit ones – when they present a clear conflict of interest.
But then I’ve never received such an award, and probably won’t any time soon, so it’s easy for me to sit here and judge.