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Does Canon Deal with the NFL Violate Journalistic Ethics?

Sunday, November 25, 2007 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 4:04 PM, under , , , , , ,

Athens, GA (Nov 25, 2007) - Does a sponsorship deal between Canon and the National Football league violate journalistic ethics? Michael Tiemann and Stephen Shankland of CNet thinks it does, and they are getting widespread support for their position. Here is an excerpt from their article:

Canon violates journalistic ethics...twice!

Earlier this year the National Football League (NFL) announced new "security" rules requiring that all professional photographers wear NFL-issued red vests or lose their stadium access. What the photographers discovered was that these NFL-issued vests also carried the Canon logo, and that has led to outrage and protests across the professional community. Turns out that outrage was justified...

CNET senior staff writer Stephen Shankland covered this controversy in a NewsBlog posting, and the National Press Photographers Association makes it quite clear what Stephen reported: that Canon put professional photographers into an ethical pickle, and they are furious. So furious that the Chicago Tribune, for example, has decided that if the NFL won't change the vests or their rules, they will "cover the NFL without visuals."

In theory, any random Joe should be free to endorse any random product and, if they are lucky, be paid a fair price to do so. But when a person of a specific profession makes a specific recommendation related to that profession, it should be completely clear what compensation, if any, is being paid. And such compensation should be fairly negotiated between the two parties. Would you want to know if your doctor was being paid to push a drug on you (or that the drug's regulator has a financial interest in the companies they regulate)? Would you want to know if your financial planner was paid by companies whose stocks he's recommending (or that they don't even know what they are selling)?

How far will these sweetheart deals continue to erode faith in journalists and the sports they cover? Is this any different from Jim Nantz hawking Sony products during sports broadcasts?

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