New York Times, Newsweek Pick Up the Junketeer Habit

The denizens of cheesy Thrillist junkets were once only shameless bloggers, but now it looks like grandiose outlets are getting on the free-trip teat, too.

Kurt Soller and Mike Albo write for the New York Times and Newsweek, so one might think they'd pass on having corporate sponsors pay for their free vacation to Jamaica, complete with complimentary food, drink, lodging and personal butlers. But, as Jeff Bercovici at Daily Finance reports, they did attend the annual travel junket put on by the website Thrillist. Now their respective publications are having to address their freebie:

"We will be reimbursing Thrillist for the trip," a [Newsweek] spokesman says... after learning that one of [the magazine's] reporters... had gone on the junket."...A Times spokeswoman said Albo "is a freelancer and was not on assignment for The Times, which he made clear to the organizers of the trip. So we do not see any violation of our rules."

The Times might not see any problem with a junket for Albo, who pens the paper's Critical Shopper column, but the writer himself seems to. As as Bercovici points out, he tweeted, "I would feel gross about all this if I wasn't so poor."

It does seem like times are affecting standards. Last year, before a similar scandal erupted, it was the tabloidy likes of the New York Post, New York Daily News, Fox News — and Gawker, via video wizard Richard Blakeley — in attendance. And there was was major blowback: Fox joined CNN in saying the trip violated standards and that they would pay for the travel costs.

It just goes to show: Reporters will take anything free. Now more than ever.

UPDATE: Six people went to the hospital after a 20-foot-lighting tower fell on Thrillist's dance party at the Sandals resport. Obama Girl, who apparently was in the hizz-ouse, ended up with a "nasty gash" on her forehead, according to Daily Intel. It just goes to show, there's no such thing as a free lunch. (Except maybe in the Jamaican hospital; they have free health care down there! (Communists.))