One effective but slimy tactic industry uses to win positive media coverage is to offer reporters all-expense-paid junkets to exotic locations. The grateful reporter often returns the favor by writing a puff-piece, neglecting proper mention or consideration of the clear conflict of interest.
The trouble with this approach is that some reporters have integrity. They’ll acknowledge the freebies at the start of their article, then paint your industry warts-and-all.
Which is exactly what food writer Marion Nestle just did after receiving a cushy travel package put together by the Alaskan Seafood Marketing Association. Her article mentions the fact that the seafood industry imports immigrants to work, “…12- to 16-hour days, six or seven days a week, for months at a time.” She then covers problems associated with overfishing. If that’s not enough to send Alaska’s fish industry into apoplexy, Nestle ends the article by writing:
I haven’t said anything about methylmercury and PCBs, fish safety, international disputes over fishing rights, or issues about organic or farmed fish. For these topics, see the five chapters on fish in What to Eat.
If we want to continue to have fish to eat, we must pay attention to such issues, uncomfortable as they may be to contemplate.
While the Alaskan Seafood Marketing Association was able to get an article about their industry written by one of America’s best known food reporters, you can bet this wasn’t at all the article they had in mind. Link.