In journalism nowadays, there’s sell out, and then there’s sold out. The New York Times’s Around the World by Private Jet: Cultures in Transformation might be the former, but it’s apparently not the latter.
Here’s how the Times Journeys site describes the globetrotting adventure.
Fly around the world in a customized Boeing 757 jet for the ultimate in luxury travel. Spend 26 days visiting such places as Israel, Cuba, Colombia, Australia, Myanmar and Iceland. Four award-winning New York Times journalists will accompany you, each for several days as you visit areas where they have expertise.
(Helpful webinar here detailing the axis of travel: New York Times Company/Abercrombie & Kent/NYT journalists.)
But . . .
Here’s how the Washington Post’s Paul Farhi describes it.
[The Times’s trip raises] a question among journalism ethics experts about ethics and access: Is the Times effectively selling its journalists to private interests? Could, for example, corporate lobbyists or political operatives sign on and seek to influence the Times’s coverage?
A Times spokeswoman told Farhi that’s nonsense. “Danielle Rhoades Ha said the paper’s travel packages are ‘educational travel experiences’ and that its journalists don’t engage in any reporting or writing while abroad or afloat.”
Then again, Andrew Seaman, the chairman of the ethics committee for the Society of Professional Journalists and a reporter for Reuters, told Farhi “[an] already skeptical public is left wondering if the paper may give preferential treatment to the person who just gave a very large chunk of change to their news organization. I don’t think that’s the question the Times or any news organization wants floating around in the world.”
Regardless, this ad ran in Thursday’s Times.
So, to recap.
The Times global private jet romp might or might not be a sell out.
But it’s not yet sold out.