The Wall Street Journal unpublished three travel articles because the writer, Akhil Sharma, took “some free and discounted goods and services.”
The ethical breach was revealed in a June 10 correction published on the Journal‘s website.
The correction stated in part, “Mr. Sharma received some free and discounted goods and services, including hotel stays, in reporting these articles. Such deals violate the Journal’s policy that forbids writers from accepting free goods or services or from taking discounts not available to the general public.”
The Journal identified the three articles in question as having been written by freelancer Sharma in the past two years. They are:
- “Peek at Secret Florence,” April 26, 2014
- “Defrost Your Inner Winter Olympian,” Feb. 16, 2013
- “Row, Row, Row Your Gondola,” June 23, 2012.
A Google Cache for the Feb. 16, 2013 article, “Defrost your Inner Winter Olympian,” still produces the article. The article was about Sharma’s experience trying “the Olympic sport of skeleton, which is like tobogganing on crystal meth” at a sports complex in the Adirondacks.
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A Google cache for the April 26, 2014 article, “Peek at Secret Florence,” also shows the article, which discusses how to see “hidden masterpieces” in Florence, Italy. In that article, Sharma wrote “luxury travel agency Red Savannah and the concierge at the Hotel Savoy helped” him get appointments to see things.
There is no Google cache available for the June 23, 2012, “Row, Row, Row Your Gondola.”
iMediaEthics has written to the Wall Street Journal to ask how it learned of the acceptance of the free and discounted items. There is an Akhil Sharma who teaches at Rutgers University. iMediaEthics has written to him to confirm he is the same person who wrote for the Journal.
Hat Tip: Jim Romenesko
UPDATE: 6/24/2014 1:11 PM EST Added info about the cache articles