Baseball -
A Lesson in Conflicts of Interest and Gifts

Gifts are nothing new in the realm of sports media. As John Sugg, editor of the Weekly Planet, recalled from his days at the Miami Herald, "...Nobody ever questioned the fact that on Christmas you'd see [sports editor] Eddie Pope's desk piled up to the ceiling with bottles of booze and presents and stuff. For him, the ethics policy did not apply."

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Baseball in the Spring. What could be more beautiful? Many people make annual pilgrammages to Arizona and Florida to watch their favorite Major League Baseball stars as they bask in the springtime sun as a preface to the baseball season. It is not only a vacation for fans, but also for some of the nation's top sportswriters. Coverage of the event is not in question, it is legitimate news.

The problem is that some of the top writers in the country receive all-expense paid trips to cover Spring Training from the editors of the World Series and All-Star Souvenir Programs.

What the Codes Say

Yankee Stadium

Want a bird's eye view of Yankee Stadium? If so, then what could be better than watching a game from the comfort of Yankee owner George Steinbrenner's private box? While most could either never afford a glimpse of the game from that vantage point or, worse, would never get invited to, some prominent members of the media have had such an opportunity. Accepting such an invitation could lead to possible conflicts of interest in terms of better coverage, etc.

As New York Post media watchdog Phil Mushnik said, "Those guardians of the good should know better than to place themselves in a position where the question needs to be asked."

What the Codes Say