|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 wasnâ€™t paid, it appears Pogue ran foul of the policy, specifically the rules on â€œSteering Clear of Advice Roles,â€ 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 mediaâ€¦.
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 organizationâ€™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 Ragan.com 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 issueâ€”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.