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Bright Lights, Sin City

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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In which our intrepid reporter journeys to the wilds of Las Vegas in the company of Adrian Grenier, Matt Dillon's brother and Richard Branson only to learn that true happiness was within himself all along. Or whatever.

There are two absolutes that apply to all journalists, whether they work at In Touch or the the Economist: 1) They like to drink, and 2) They like free stuff. Which is what makes the press junket one of the most coveted assignments around. The premise of the press junket simple: A company/service provider looking for exposure ("press") invites a bunch of journalists ("journalists") to partake, free of charge, in whatever product they are hawking or service they are providing. There is no signed contract between the company/service provider and the journalist, but the idea is that the journalist, having had an enjoyable time out on the town on the company/service provider's dime, will return home and feel inspired to write a story about just how enjoyable/beneficial/awesome the company/service is.

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If you work at the New York Times or some other such bastion of journalistic integrity, company policy expressly forbids you you from partaking in this sort of ethically dubious behavior. (Getting outed on a junket can be awkward no matter where you work.) But if you work at a less savory institution, the fact of the matter is you probably go on junkets, which is how you (the reader) end up reading about how JOE PANTOLIANO was hanging out at the MAXIM BUNGALOWS in the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC in the New York Daily News or whatever.

If you work at, your editor, feeling generous, might even encourage you to go on a junket to Las Vegas sponsored by VIRGIN AMERICA and HBO'S ENTOURAGE (starting SUNDAY!) to write about the peculiar experience that is a press junket. This is how it will play out:



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