Pages 69 to 80 of this weekend’s New York Times Magazine comprise a 12-page
Rwanda. The web address given should you want even more information is www.rwandatourism.com
– yes, Rwanda Tourism. Somehow I doubt that the amount of money that Rwanda
is going to make from tourism is going to come close to justifying the cost
of a 12-page advertorial in the New York Times Magazine.
The advertorial comes with a credit: it was "produced and sponsored by
Summit Communications", a company
whose sole purpose seems to be to publish advertorials in the New York Times.
Some advertorials, like that for Libya,
for example, are even on the web at nytimes.com.
So far this year, Summit Communications has produced advertorials for Rwanda,
Congo, and Sierra Leone. Last year it did Saudia Arabia, Kuwait, and Libya –
twice. Most of these countries come very low on transparency indices and very
high on corruption indices. Most of them, too, are unlikely to benefit greatly
from this type of exposure.
One can’t help but wonder how Summit Communications persuades these ministers
from highly corrupt countries to pay large amounts of money for advertorials
in the New York Times.
Now it’s true that the fee that Summit Communications charges has to be significantly
greater than the amount that Summit Communications has to pay the NYT. That’s
right and proper, of course: Summit has to produce the report, and make some
money for itself. But maybe – just maybe – some of that fee finds
its way into an offshore bank account controlled by the minister in question?
That can’t be the case: such a practice would make it easier to sell these advertorials,
but would also violate the Foreign
Corrupt Practices Act.
So how does Summit Communications – none of whose principals are named
on its website – manage to keep its sales going? I have no idea.