Is it OK for a reporter to smoke pot to get a source to trust him?

Washington Post

Gene Weingarten says this is based on a true story:

A Washington Post reporter is sent to a small Midwestern city to profile an ordinary man involved in an issue of national importance. By the second day, the writer feels he isn't trusted by the source -- the two have dramatically different backgrounds, with different levels of education and sophistication -- and that his piece is shaping up as a B-minus story at best. On day three, the story subject offers marijuana to the writer, who knows it's against the Post's policy to do anything illegal on assignment. He believes, though, that taking the pipe might well finally persuade his subject that he's someone to be trusted.

What should the reporter do? asks Weingarten. (At last look, more than 73 percent of his poll-takers said, "Yes, he can take the pipe.")

  • Jim Romenesko

    From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August of 1999, after seeing his MediaGossip.com, a hobby site he started in May of 1999.

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