Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) has released an article claiming that Bumble and the Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of Texas Monthly recently collaborated on a deal to publicise Whitney Wolfe Herd.
Anonymised staffers at the Texas magazine reportedly described the negotiation as being a “breach of journalistic ethics”.
EIC Tim Taliaferro is said to have made it clear in his communications with Bumble that he needed website traffic desperately.
It appears that Bumble responded by offering $25,000 – $30,000 spend on social media sponsorship of the article, conditional on Wolfe Herd featuring on the cover of the magazine.
One of Taliaferro’s employees told CJR that he was “bragging about it like it was some sort of major coup”.
They added “To see this happen at Texas Monthly, which is known for its high standards, made me wonder where the line would eventually be drawn for this kind of thing.
“What other deals might be made with story subjects in the future and what other perks might Tim be willing to put on the table?”
Taliaferro has since informed staffers in a meeting that they misunderstood the nature of the communications with Bumble, and that Wolfe Herd was always set to feature on the cover.
Emails obtained by CJR, however, make it seem as if Bumble was paying for promotion in the magazine.
Bumble offered to “invest in some paid advertising”, and state: “We’ll commit to a $25K spend, as we know the web traffic is so important for [Texas Monthly] and is part of what we promised”.
CJR emphasise that the concern around journalistic ethics is that the EIC was involved in the social media strategy of the company.
Had Bumble simply collaborated on the article and provided an interview, then sponsored the article for their own benefit, there would have been no breach.
Read more here.