Last Sunday the Travel section published an article by John Cummings of Newsday about ethical questions in the field of travel guidebook writing. The operations of Temple Fielding, acknowledged as the premier guidebook author in the United States, were discussed in the article and Fielding was invited by The Post to reply. His cable, from Mallorca, follows:
THE CRUX OF Mr. Cummings' slanted "investigative reporting" on us is based on what he rightfully names as two small publications, both of which - unlike the rest of the Fielding series - are in the hobby category. The "Shopping Guide" and "Fielding's Favorites" are published as public services. As we flatly state to their readers in the introductions to both, it is impossible to produce these specialized travel tools at practical retail prices without small production subsidies solely to allot greater space than can normally be given to certain scrupulously reliable establishments abroad, which we have tested and which we have selected as meeting our highest standards. These careful explanations in their introductions conclude with the sentence, "We don't want any misunderstandings about this, and that's why we're spelling it out."
Here's what Mr. Cummings manipulates and distorts:
1. Since we have laid these facts so openly on the line continuously for 21 years in the former book and for 8 years in the latter, how can anyone anywhere logically accuse us of impropriety? How can anyone anywhere logically nurture the insinuation from this candid pronouncement that "money can buy space in a Fielding guide?" What money has never done and never will do is buy a recommendation or even a mention in any Fielding guide. Our 32-year reputation for honesty, forthrightness and honorable reporting is not bought. It is earned.
2. The sole means of support of "Fielding's Travel Guide to Europe" is, always was, and always will be the reader - period. No innuendoes, no such ambiguities can ever change that absolutely untouchable reality.
3. The standards of the Fielding organization not only adhere to the Society of American Travel Writers' Code of Ethics, but they extend much further in our blanket refusal to accept all freebies of any nature. The fact that we can financially afford to do our work without them eloquently testifies to the wisdom of that inviolate policy.
Finally, irrespective of Mr. Cummings' motives in filing this sensational-for-sensation's-sake report, I take strong personal exception to his misrepresentation of my Nancy such as in the example of quoting her as telling me to "shut up," when she has never said this to me during our 35 years of treasured marriage and partnership. Such unconscionable rudeness is as gratuitous as it is unprofessional.