Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Freebies and Fellowships: There Is a Difference

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Freebies and Fellowships: There Is a Difference

Article excerpt

Freebies and fellowships: There is a difference

John Sununu's use of government jet planes for personal travel should not come as a surprise to newspaper people. Editors, reporters and publishers have been hustling for free rides - and free lunches - for years.

I heard about several of these stories when I conducted a workshop at a New England Press Association convention on what I thought was a different theme: How to apply for and obtain study grants and fellowships for overseas reporting assignments. As a former editor of a small community weekly and as a free-lance writer, I have frequently sought and been awarded fellowships to report from Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

When I was talking up my workshop at the awards banquet the night before, I got an entirely different reaction from several editors who were seated next to me. After I had invited them to attend the workshop the following day, one of them said, "Sounds good. I want to learn about how I can take advantage of the freebies."

No, you got it wrong, I said. Fellowships and grants for reporters or editors represent the few opportunities available to learn about other societies and cultures firsthand. Fellowships offer reporters a chance to expand and to grow, as well as to gain important perspectives on the changing world.

"What about the perks we are entitled to?" asked one of the editors. "John Sununu and his wife got to ski in Colorado, thanks to Ski magazine. Why can't I get on a similar junket?"

I told the editor my workshop would feature several colleagues from other New England newspapers with extensive fellowship experience. Each panelist would discuss his or her experiences, and a handout sheet listing resources - Editor & Publisher's yearly directory of grants, fellowships and awards, in addition to other publications that regularly announce fellowship competitions - had been printed for distribution. Following our presentation, we would take questions from our colleagues.

I wanted the workshop to explore legitimate fellowship competitions to which one submitted an application, clips, and references, but I knew the editor asking me about freebies had made a valid point.

Editors are constantly being tempted by representatives from travel agencies, hotels or condominium vacation resorts, airline companies and even tourist bureaus of foreign nations to come and travel, free, first class.

A focus of my workshop should discuss the ethics of so-called "perks" many editors and writers believe come with the job. What if you participate in one of these junkets, travel abroad, and write a favorable story? …

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