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I was at a conference just a couple of weeks ago, and one journalist asked a PR rep if he was allowed to write a story.
This happens in your country, too: In the United States, there's a man named Richard Berman. He's a former executive from Steak and Ale and currently does PR for much of the restaurant industry. He also owns the Employment Policies Institute, a think tank that, gee whiz, found evidence that raising the minimum wage was bad.
Politico reached out to Newsweek to ask "What gives?" and Newsweek replied with some classic buck-passing: "We, like other news organizations today, rely on our writers to submit factually accurate material ..."
His magnum opus was a warning that any decrease in American smoking habits might "put serious strain on the nation's Social Security and Medicare programs." Gladwell was such a hit with Big Tobacco in the '90s that Phillip Morris even included him on a list of media assets. This isn't to say that the man hasn't written some fine books, but if you're looking for someone who places pride in objectivity, Gladwell probably isn't your man.
free reporting especially big stories is almost impossible these days, especially now that the evil empire can hit journalists with terrorism charges etc. (Check out what's going on in the U.K.).