All Guardian journalists have been reminded that they must declare at the end of a story when a trip has been paid for by an outside interest.
Readers’ editor Chris Elliott has reminded journalists of their commitment to add such footnotes under the paper’s Editorial Code after a complaint from a reader over a comment piece about Qatar’s (ultimately successful) bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
Journalist Louise Taylor failed to mention in the piece that the trip was paid for by the Qatari government and Elliott notes that the requirement to add such footnotes has slipped more generally across the Guardian.
The piece was broadly very supportive of the bid: “An unprecedented opportunity awaits to forge fresh, enhanced understanding with the Arab world.” And it prompted some highly sceptical comments from readers, such as this from “Dave Camden”:
“I used to have to write crap like this when I worked in Dubai. Had to check this really was the Guardian website and not the Gulf News…
“The Guardian has run a few pieces on the dreadful conditions that labourers in Dubai have to suffer. Is that not the case in Qatar? Well it bloody is, I’ve seen the labour camps outside Doha.”
Readers’ editor Elliott notes: “Journalists worry that appending a footnote undermines the journalism in the eyes of the readers. But editors should enforce this rule without exception, because what really undermines the journalism is when it isn’t enforced.”