|The New York Times will fly you around the world for $135,000. Is that a problem?|
By Paul Farhi July 5 at 4:49 PM
It’s the trip of a lifetime — around the world in 26 days, with stops in nine countries. Just 50 people will travel on this guided tour next year via a private Boeing 757 to places like Marrakesh, Easter Island and Reykjavik, Iceland.
The price: $135,000 per person.
And that’s not all. Those who make the journey will be accompanied on various legs by journalists from the New York Times. The newspaper is organizing and promoting the package, which it calls “Around the World by Private Jet: Cultures in Transformation.” Among those scheduled to join the traveling party are Washington bureau chief Elisabeth Bumiller, op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof and Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr.
The super-luxe journey and other Times-sponsored travel packages are a lucrative source of income for the paper at a time when news organizations are under increasing financial pressure. The round-the-world trip — which could gross as much as $6.7 million — is part of a range of products and services designed to “monetize” the Times’s brand name, from $100 tote bags to event sponsorships. Other news organizations, including The Washington Post, which sells T-shirts and other merchandise, engage in the practice.
But the Times’s trips raise a question among journalism ethics experts about ethics and access: Is the Times effectively selling its journalists to private interests? Could, for example, corporate lobbyists or political operatives sign on and seek to influence the Times’s coverage?
The Times’s round-the-world excursion is by far the most elaborate and expensive package it markets using its journalists as a lure. But it also offers other packages under its Times Journeys brand for those with somewhat less disposable income.
For example, a 13-day cruise in October around Southeast Asia aboard a “megayacht,” as an online brochure describes it, starts at $10,790 per person, not including international airfare to the trip’s embarkation point. The cruise features lectures on “Donald Trump’s grand economic plan” by Gretchen Morgenson, the Times’s assistant business editor and a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist.
Prices for a 15-day cruise around Scandinavia featuring columnist Maureen Dowd and chief Washington correspondent Carl Hulse start at $5,129 for an interior cabin. The fare rises to $16,489 per person for a “pinnacle” suite on the tour, which the Times is marketing as “Fjords, Falls and Foreign Affairs.”
Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said the paper’s travel packages are “educational travel experiences” and that its journalists don’t engage in any reporting or writing while abroad or afloat.
continues at washingtonpost.com