Maintaining journalistic ethics and standards

How can anyone be expected to do an independent review if they are being paid by the supplier?

4x4 editors letter

ONE OF the perks of this job is that we get to visit some pretty awesome places to drive some great cars and check out cool products.

The first drive of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class in Chile, and attending the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, are two features in this issue that are great examples of that. They can be at overseas locations such as these, or even within Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.

When we go to these events or launches, the car company or product distributor will pick up the bill for the travel and accommodation because, let’s face it, we don’t have the budget to travel to these things. So we weren’t surprised to find the same applied for an invite to a product launch in Victoria that we received at 4x4 Australia this week.

What was a surprise though, was where the invite stated, “There will be no cash payment for attendance”. Excuse me, do people expect to be paid to attend a product launch and review it? So I questioned the sender of the invite and was told that yes, “some influencers have that expectation”. Well I’ll be!

The influx of so-called influencers among the established media on launches and drive programs is becoming more prevalent as each launch comes along and, I guess, it’s just a sign of the times. But the idea of being paid by the supplier to be there is totally alien. How can anyone be expected to do an independent review of the product if they are being paid by the supplier?

I’m proud of the fact that we can do independent evaluations of products and vehicles for 4X4 Australia magazine. I get paid a wage regardless of who’s products I’m looking at, what I say about it, and if they advertise in the magazine or not. Sure, I’m more likely to look at a product from an advertiser than one from those who don’t, but if I see something that I like, regardless of where it comes from, I’m happy to share it with you. Likewise, I’ll criticise it if it is deserved. I’m not a business owner, I work for wages, so I can give an honest review.

It seems not everyone plays by the same rules.


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