Last night, a Trib reporter Tweeted that he saw Missourian reporters having pizza at a news event. It was being covered as a neighborhood news event, and I have no idea if what the Trib reporter said is true.
What if it is true? Is it okay, in the spirit of breaking down the barrier between “journalist” and “community”? Can a reporter be bought for a slice of pizza? How could the coverage of this event at an elementary school be affected by the reporters eating pizza with the families and others attending the event?
In general, as you know, journalists should not accept gifts or freebies or meals from news sources. Cultural differences, however, sometimes change the rules. Sometimes, to refuse any kind of refreshment is perceived as rude. That may even be true here in Columbia, Mo., in some situations where saying no to a cup of coffee or a glass of iced tea will actually make a reporting situation more awkward.
What do you think?