A reporter at the weekly newspaper Demos in Maputo encountered an interesting lesson in conflicting loyalties earlier in 2004.
A source brought the reporter an unopened bottle of beer produced by Mozambique’s top brewer and showed the reporter rodent parts floating in the bottle.
To get the brewery's official response, the reporter set up an interview with the manager. The manager told the reporter that he would investigate what happened and assured the reporter that if indeed the rodent parts were in the beer when it was sold, it was an isolated incident.
Then the manager handed over a case of beer to the reporter and slipped him an envelope with 2 million meticais (US$90 or R550). According to the reporter, the manager did not ask him directly to kill the story and the reporter did not ask for an explanation for the gifts.
The reporter took the beer and the money back to the Demos newsroom where he wrote up the article about the rodent parts being discovered in the beer, including the comments by the brewery manager and the gift he was given following the interview.
The reporter defended his actions by saying that he demonstrated loyalty to his readers by informing them of the bribe and the tainted beer. He saw no conflict with accepting the gifts and used the money to party with his colleagues at the paper.
Some questions to consider:
Was this a bribe?
Should the reporter have refused the gifts?
Should s/he have mentioned the gifts in the report?
– Prof Marco Mulcahy, Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo