New York Times apologizes for writer's 3M junket to St. Paul

The New York Times has parted ways with a freelancer and its public editor has written a mea culpa over a trip to Minnesota paid for by 3M.

Mary Tripsas wrote about 3M's Innovation Center last Sunday, but the Times now says it would not have published the piece as written had it known that 3M paid for Tripsas' trip to St. Paul, a violation of the newspaper's rules against accepting items of value from sources.

Tripsas said, "It should have computed that there might have been, from the journalistic point of view, a conflict." But from her point of view, she was doing academic research, as she normally did, and there was nothing remarkable about allowing 3M to pick up the $820 bill for air fare and a hotel. The money could just as easily have come from her Harvard research budget, she said. "It wouldn't have changed what I wrote," she said.

Looking back on the story, it does appear a bit ... gushing.

As a company, 3M is at the forefront of a movement that appears to be gaining traction ... When many people hear the name 3M, they may think only of canary-colored Post-it notes. But the company is applying wide-ranging technical expertise to a portfolio of products including transportation systems, dental and medical devices and electronics.

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