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Journalists sell their gifts to help orphaned children

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July 13, 2012, 12:03 a.m. | None — by Oksana Faryna

Often to win favor, many people give presents to journalists. The gifts are usually unwelcome as a violation of ethical rules. A group of journalists has decided to sell the presents they receive and give the proceeds to orphans
© Kostyantyn Chernichkin

Oksana Faryna

Kyiv Post Staff Writer

For many reasons, people like to give presents to journalists – especially for Ukraine's Journalist Day on June 6. Although ethics rules prevent many reporters from accepting gifts, some of the items are too minor or bothersome to return – such as pens, cups, notebooks and even more unusual presents such as a marble table clock.

What to do with all this bounty?

Some throw it away. But a group of Ukrainian journalists decided to sell presents they receive throughout the year in an Internet auction. The money raised is donated to orphans. Since the start of the idea a month ago, the journalists have managed to raise $5,000.

“Presents are a temptation for both [PR] press services and journalists,” said Borys Davydenko, deputy chief editor in the Ukrainian editorial department of Forbes magazine, where the idea of a charity auction started. “Therefore a rule should be introduced in all editorial departments that journalists should not accept presents worth more than $50.”

The $50 rule is in place at Forbes, with journalists allowed to take gifts below this threshold.
“Once I was cleaning in my apartment and was busy with packing all these presents into a big bag,” Davydenko recalled. “I felt bad to throw all this stuff out.”

Davydenko did not expect that the idea would be supported by his colleagues at Forbes and journalists from a dozen other media outlets as well as the local business community. An open group called Благотворительный аукцион ко Дню журналиста (charity auction for Journalist Day) was created on Facebook, where all participants could post photographs of their stuff and make their bids. 

Yuliya Byelinska

Apart for brand pens, cups, notebooks and badges put up for the auction, there were such peculiar lots as a flashcard-flashlight-laser pointer from VAB bank, a thermo-bag from DTEK energy company, a set of serving dishes from TAS group, and a barbeque set from mobile operator Life:). Among the most bizarre presents were a shiny moneybox with a dragon from Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko and a marble table clock from Ukraine’s prosecutor general Viktor Pshonka.

Borys Davydenko

A thermo-cup from Ukrgasbank decorated with a holiday inscription “Akula pera,” the Ukrainian equivalent for “press gang,” was a longtime leader of the auction. It was sold for Hr 3,334 to a scriptwriter at STB channel Olha Murashko and 1+1 Channel journalist Olha Vasylevska. Their joint record was broken recently by Yevheny Cherniak, an owner of the Global Spirits holding, who promised to pay Hr 10,000 for a bottle of Khortytsia “horilka,” produced by his own company. A souvenir 0.5 liter bottle is wrapped in a puzzle and can be opened only after solving it.

As of July 6, organizers managed to sell all 76 items that were put up for sale to some 30 buyers and collected Hr 40,000 or $5,000 in total.

“This idea was a success for a few reasons,” explained Yuliya Byelinska, a journalist at Forbes and one of the administrators of the Facebook page where the auction is held. “First, it is exciting to participate in the bidding. Second, it is interesting for people to receive something for the money they give to charity. And third, it’s trust. We all are from one professional community. We all know each other and believe that money will be spent honestly.”

Kyiv Post staff writer Oksana Faryna can be reached at faryna@kyivpost.com

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Brian Bonner July 13, 2012, 12:13 a.m.    

What to do with all the strange gifts? Help orphans.

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