In the coming days, the Conference of Defence Associations will announce the recipient of its Ross Munro Media Award for this year, including its $2,500 cash prize.
Should we just shrug it off when someone takes a cheque from a defence lobby group on Saturday night, and then calls their office for a quote on Monday morning?
Should Canadian journalists accept cash awards from DND-funded lobby groups like the Conference of Defence Associations?
We may roll our eyes at journalists in the U.S. sometimes, but lets give credit where it’s due: if you work for a major U.S. defence publication like the respected Defense News, and you accept any kind of gift from the defence lobby – you might be fired for a breach of ethics!
I asked Theresa Hitchens, former editor of Defense News, whether its reporters could accept an award like the CDA’s Ross Munro Media Award. Here is what she said:
When I was there, we had a STRICT policy against such activities – and I believe it would have been grounds for dismissal. We even had a policy that said if someone from industry takes you out to lunch, you have to reciprocate on [Defense News] dime.
Why don’t Canadian media outlets adhere to such high ethical standards? Should we just shrug it off when someone takes a cheque from a defence lobby group on Saturday night, and then calls their office for a quote on Monday morning?
Here’s my suggestion: Let the CDA give its award to a defence contractor or retiring officer (like Hillier). It’s just too unseemly for journalists.