"Scientists are accepting large sums of money from drug companies to put their names to articles endorsing new medicines that they have not written - a growing practice that some fear is putting scientific integrity in jeopardy," reports Sarah Bosely, health editor of the Guardian.
As Congress debates campaign finance reform, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz wonders if we also need "journalistic finance reform -- that is, what are corporations buying when they lard their payrolls with prominent media folks?" Media pundits took fat contracts on the side from Enron -- ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 for Paul Krugman of the New York Times,
For $15,000, Canada's "Business Television" program will produce a puff piece about a company's "philosophy and future vision," "innovative aspects" and "specific products or services, as well as successes and challenges." It will broadcast the show as news, without any information in the credits to inform viewers that money has changed hands.
Professor Roger Scruton, a darling of the moral right in England, asked one of the world's biggest tobacco companies for $5,500 a month to help place pro-smoking articles in some of Britain's most influential newspapers and magazines. "We would aim to place an article every two months in one or other of the WSJ [Wall Street Journal], the Times, the Telegraph, the Spectator, the Financial Times, the Economist, the Independent or the New Statesman," says the note, sent last October under the name of Sophie, his wife and business partner.
The Project on Government Oversight has issued a report on reprisals and retaliation against whistleblowers at the U.S. Department of Energy. "Retaliation at DOE does not necessarily entail attempting to fire federal employees," it states. "In the majority of cases in the security area, DOE supervisors attempt to revoke the whistleblower's clearance on trumped-up charges. Then they remove them from any responsibility for oversight of security. On the other hand, contractors often lose their contracts, or their jobs, for blowing the whistle. ...
Dogged by controversies involving PR companies, the 2200-member Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA), has initiated a review of its code of ethics. Trouble is, some of those who have pushed for just such a review know precious little about it.
Katie Couric of "Today," Diane Sawyer of "Good Morning America," and Bryant Gumbel of "The Early Show" are three of the nation's biggest media stars. But are they journalists or glorified hawkers? According to a report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which studied the three network morning shows for two weeks in June and two weeks in October, these programs spend an awful lot of time selling things to the public. ... Even given some slight moderation after the Sept. 11 attacks, the report suggested that the shows were becoming a "kind of sophisticated infomercial."
An Australian public relations company working for the pharmaceutical industry has been accused of running a secretive dirty tricks campaign to discredit an industry critic. Sydney-based Susan Andrews Communications Group, which helped promote arthritis pill Celebrex for Pfizer and Pharmacia, was named in last week's Medical Observer magazine as the source of leaked documents attempting to smear former Government drug adviser Professor David Henry.
"The pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries are funneling more and more cash into the pockets of academics who teach and study ethics," observes philosophy professor Carl Elliott, who works at a bioethics center. "Bioethicists have written for years about conflicts of interest in scientific research or patient care yet have paid little attention to the ones that might compromise bioethics itself," he notes, pointing to several cases in which companies like Eli Lilly have used funding to pressure ethicists into censoring or changing their views.