Enterprise Reporting

A hat tip to my former B-M colleague, fellow PCNY board member, and friend Lisa Kovitz for reminding me why I need to read The New York Times “Public Editor” (i.e., ombudsman) column each and every Sunday. This past week, its editor Byron Calame took it upon himself to conduct an intelligently designed survey to determine the origins of the paper’s enterprise reporting.

Mr. Calame set out to learn the original source for the story ideas that were published in the paper, in this case, on Sunday, April 16. He selected 23 “enterprise” stories (versus breaking news pieces) and e-mailed queries to their by-lined reporters. He learned:

“The initial idea for 16 of the 23 articles came from the reporter. Editors came up with the basic ideas that launched five stories, with no reports of an idea that ‘came down’ from any of the 13 top editors on the paper’s masthead. Only two of the 23 stories started with ideas from public relations practitioners, although one was so flattering that a couple of complaining readers correctly surmised its origin.”

“The results were in line with the estimates of Jill Abramson, the managing editor for news, about enterprise story ideas across the entire paper. “By far, the greatest percentage of ideas comes from reporters,” she told me. ‘They bubble up.'”

In thinking about this experiment, I began to wonder what degrees of PR influence exist at other outlets. Here’s an informal survey. Tell me what you think (<10%, 25%, 50%, 75% or 100%). My answers below. Business Week _50_

ABC “Good Morning America” _75_

Newsweek _25_

“Entertainment Tonight” _100_

The Associated Press _<10_ NBC “Meet the Press” _50_ Gawker.com _25_ FOX “Hannity & Colmes” _50_ US Magazine _100_