A couple of years ago, I was invited to talk about journalism by a women's group at a local Unitarian church. Afterward, they mailed me a $40 check to express their appreciation. Knowing that my newspaper would regard accepting the money as ethically suspect, I wrote a $40 donation to a local food pantry.
I didn't mind doing this, but it seemed totally absurd, given the speaking fees that big-time journalists command.
A recent CJR piece sheds more light on the amount of money reporters and editors get paid for speaking to groups they ostensibly cover. Of particular concern is the fact that people who regularly cover Wall Street are essentially enriching themselves by talking to the people on their beat. According to the piece: