Written by: Philippe Riboton
IT IS A COMMON occurrence to hear Czech politicians or businessmen denouncing the journalistic community as one of the most corrupt professions. On the other hand, it’s not that common to hear about those who actively try (or succeed) to corrupt said journalists. Let’s take the example of a conference recently organized at the Czech Senate about “Customer Relationship Management”. How do you think the promoters of this event might try to attract journalists to cover such a serious business topic? Would they pick a talented speaker whose international experience and reputation would be enticing enough to attract the media? Would they invite companies that have been pioneers in the field and would share their know-how and experiences? Not really. Those promoters simply relied on a rather basic e-mail invitation, which read: “enjoy champagne and caviar and find waiting for you a useful gift”, with the further assurance that “your gift is being wrapped now”. When The Prague Tribune invited the event’s promoter to explain his exemplary approach to media relations, he offered: “more good will be done in the long run with this harmless approach of enticing journalists to the conference. We have not done this in the past, and received only a small number of journalists who generally never filed a story.” For once this gentleman (for the record, his name is Peter Magurean, and he is the general manager of a company called Muscanto) will be happy to learn that we found his invitation interesting enough to actually “file a story”. How many journalists actually responded to that invitation and enjoyed “champagne, caviar and a useful gift”? How many of them wrote an article after they had a couple of drinks and unwrapped their gift back home? The story doesn’t say, but at least it serves as a reminder that in order to get corrupted, journalists need a corruptor. There are plenty of them out there, and there are plenty of journalists ready to comply. But the most important thing to keep in mind is that when journalists get wooed, it’s the reader who gets screwed.