Meet the Media

Forbes “Mixed Media” Columnist Jeff Bercovici

Forbes media watcher Jeff Bercovici set tongues-a-waggin yesterday with his piece piling on an already beleaguered David Pogue. It seems that the consummate and always-entertaining gadget guy for The New York Times and elsewhere, like hundreds of journalists before him, agreed to participate in one of the many industry events wherein PR professionals gain insights on how best to engage reporters.

Mr. Pogue’s ethical transgression, at least in Mr. Bercovici’s interpretation of The Times’s conflict-of-interest policies, was accepting a fee to appear (which the event sponsor refused to acknowledge), and for allowing the sponsor to charge attendees for the right to hear him speak. Bercovici observed:

Gadget Guy David Pogue

“But even if he wasn’t paid, it appears Pogue ran foul of the policy, specifically the rules on “Steering Clear of Advice Roles,” which state:

It is an inherent conflict for a journalist to perform public relations work, paid or unpaid. Staff members may not counsel individuals or organizations on how to deal successfully with the news media….

They should not take part in public relations workshops that charge admission or imply privileged access to the press, or participate in surveys asking their opinion of an organization’s media relations or public image.”

Ragan Communications Chief Mark Ragan

As president of the Publicity Club of New York, an organization whose primary mission is to help PR professionals work more harmoniously and effectively with journalists, I was a little disappointed that the CEO of the organization that hosted Mr. Pogue didn’t more assiduously defend the practice of helping PR pros do their jobs better.

In fact, with some 32,000 followers and nearly 27,000 tweets to his name, @MarkRaganCEO couldn’t turn off the bot for a moment to weigh in on Mr. Bercovici’s story or even post his POV on the website. Oh well.

As for PCNY, we will continue to host journalists for the express purpose of sharing how editorial decisions are made, and offering best PR practices to follow when proposing story or interview ideas. We do not pay our panelists, but that has never been a deterrent in attracting a who’s who of New York-based media to our events, including many from The New York Times. (See right column here.)

And while I’m at it, I should mention that our next luncheon will take place July 21 and will feature senior producers and talent coordinators for NBC “Today,” ABC “GMA,” “Live! With Regis & Kelly,” “Rachael Ray Show” and the “Wendy Williams Show.” We’ll also offer a live webcast.

Update 6/29: Mark Ragan weighs in via a comment below in which he says: “I have commented repeatedly on this issue—not only on the original Poytner Institute blog but also on the blogs of The Observer and Forbes.” Glad to hear. My bad for not seeing. Thanks.


  1. <span><span><span> </span>I have a seminar on Friday in my AP NSL Government class about the media bias. My talking points say that there is a media bias, but this was one of the guide questions, and I was trying to get those before I got information and examples that weren’t on the guide. [url=]iPhone[/url]</span></span>

  2. Mark,

    I appreciate your comments and will add an addendum to my post. As for a scandal, yes, this is totally overblown.  So you know, The Times policy is very uneven. There was a period when NYT corp comms folks cited the policy for their inability to deliver speakers to my events. And other times when the journalist unilaterally chose to participate. Also, having repped The Times for PR, I was even asked to arrange speaking ops for Times journalists at PR events. Thanks for weighing in (and don’t be daunted).


  3. Peter,

    I have commented repeatedly on this issue—not only on the original Poytner Institute blog but also on the blogs of  The Observer and Forbes. How could you not have seen my posts?  In the case of the Forbes piece, the blogger and I are practically the only people exchanging comments—which shows you how ‘inside baseball’ this so-called ‘micro-scandal’ is.

    By the way, don’t you love the way these bloggers characterize this as a ‘mini-scandal’ and ‘micro-scandal,’ as if the use of these adjectives somehow relieves them of any responsibility for posting a researched story containing some substance?

    Let’s see if we can help them. How about:

    –Little, bitsy, iitsy scandal
    — Tiny scandal
    — Microscopic scandal
    — Almost-invisible scandal
    — Lilliputian scandal
    — Petite scandal
    — Pee-wee scandal

    Feel free to add to the list.


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