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Integrity For Sale

Michelin_1Guide Michelin announced it is recalling its 2005 Benelux Red Guide (subscription required) because it claimed it had reviewed the Ostend Queen in Belgium and awarded it a "Bib Gourmand," even though it only opened after publication of the guide. Michelin estimates it will take two months to publish replacement guides.

Ostend Queen restaurant owner Fernand David said he got into the guide because of the "good relations" he had with Michelin, and because he was sponsored by an established three-star chef. The restaurant opened only three weeks after the guide was published.

In a fully-connected era, shoddy practices like payola are coming to light faster than ever. Will media companies need their own special version of Sarbanes-Oxley to audit how they publish reviews...or will publishers have the courage to demand accountability from their ad sales departments?

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