Friday, December 14, 2007

* From the Credibility Department:

Last Monday, I was fortunate to be invited by Cunard to attend the naming ceremony for Queen Victoria. I'm sure you've read accounts of the ceremony itself.

It was stupendous. Cunard spent gobs of money on the event - even building an auditorium for it on the pier. They brought forty-some journalists from the US to cover it. They were primarily from publications (print or web-based) that cover the cruise industry. There wasn't a chance to spend a cent out of your own pocket during the two-day stay. Cunard asked nothing of us, other than the implied expectation that we would actually run articles about the ship.

There was one thing they asked. On the itinerary we received before we left home, and again on the updated one we received in Southampton, it said that photography and video recording was not allowed during the ceremony. Again at the beginning of the event, they made the announcement that Cunard respectfully requests that there be no photography or video recording during the ceremony.

I have to admit I was tempted to sneak a couple photos, but then wondered, "Why should I?" Cunard had professional videographers recording the event from several angles, and they had a bevy of professional photographers positioned in a press area, who had been briefed on when they could move and where they could go to get the best shots. Nothing any of us would take could in any way be considered exclusive, and certainly wouldn't be of the quality coming from the super-expensive equipment of the pros. And our angles wouldn't be anywhere nearly as good as the shots from the photographers who would be positioned at the edge of the stage at the time when the Duchess actually named the ship.

Cunard promised us electronic versions of some of the still photos and clips of the video would be available to us within minutes of the end of the event. More photos would be available later, and a recording of the complete ceremony would be issued later. Knowing how this works, there would probably be hundreds of other photos available if you have some specific need.

So why would anyone want to take their own pictures? Refraining from taking pictures is the only thing our host had asked of us. Sure there was a chance that the Duchess of Cornwall would step off the stage and fall in the orchestra pit, or that Prince Charles' pants would fall down. I'm sure pictures of that wouldn't be made available, but chances of either of those photo ops seemed astronomically slim. So like most of my colleagues, I just sat back and enjoyed a magnificent event.

When I returned to the ship, I wrote about the event for CND, and as promised, photos were already available to us, and I used one with the story.

When I returned home, I was surprised that so many of my colleagues from other publications had their own photos on their websites. None of them were from good camera angles. Most of them were poor-quality photos besides. At least one person took crappy-quality video clips and posted them.

The point of all this is that if they can't refrain from breaking the rules here, it indicates a lack of integrity. To me it also speaks to their credibility. In the future, whenever I read anything written by those people who have the "illegal" photos or video on their websites, I'm going to wonder what other ethics they've ignored. Have they plagiarized? Have they made up "facts" or "quotes?" Or is this the time they are operating within the rules of journalistic ethics?

Monday, December 10, 2007

From the personnel department:

Istithmar World has appointed Manfred Ursprunger chief executive of its QE2 venture. The company will operate QE2 as a hotel and entertainment destination in Dubai beginning in 2009. The company takes delivery of the ship from Cunard in November 2008.

Ursprunger has almost 30 years experience in the cruise and hospitality industry. He has held senior positions with Norwegian Cruise Line, NCL America, Silversea Cruises, Holland America Line, Costa Crociere, Celebrity Cruises and Renaissance Cruises.