SXSW Eco - Austin, Texas


  • Austin Convention Center Room 3

Buckraking or Nitpicking: When Journalists Take Money from the Companies They Cover

When a science journalist quotes an academic expert saying pesticides are safe, should that expert’s financial ties to the pesticide industry be disclosed to readers? Can a food reporter accept a paid speaking gig or travel expenses from a pro-GMO corporation and still independently, aggressively report on GMOs? What about a journalism fellowship co-sponsored by the Organic Trade Association and Monsanto—is that okay?

These kinds of ethical dilemmas are a day-to- day reality in the media landscape surrounding food and agriculture journalism, and the guidelines that reporters and editors employ vary dramatically. In the last year, a number of reporters and public-interest groups have weighed in on the ways that food companies are financially wooing journalists-- -and how journalists don’t always, clearly disclose their financial ties to readers. This controversy even reared its head at SXSW Eco 2014 when it was revealed that Monsanto had paid the travel expenses of several panelists and moderators (including at least one journalist) without publicly disclosing this until the day of the session.

Whether you are a consumer or a producer of news, you have an opinion. Join our engaging panel in a constructive discussion, and share your thoughts with us!