Tag Archives: reporter

When A Private Crisis Strategy Session Becomes Front Page News

Crisis Communications Lessons: When A Private Crisis Strategy Session Becomes Front Page News | GroundFloor Media PR Agency | Denver, COAs part of crisis communications training with our clients, we emphasize that unless you are in a closed-door office or in a private location, anything you say in public can be used against you. This lesson, once again, resonated loud and clear in a Sunday New York Times scoop.

Last week, Denver attorney Ty Cobb who now works for the White House to coordinate its response into investigations into Russia’s connection with President Trump, was having a strategy lunch with the president’s lead outside attorney on the Russia investigations, John Dowd.

Little did they know, a Times reporter was also having lunch, at the next table.

Read more after the jump…

Veteran Reporter Quits Because of Nasty Online Comments

angry-court-reporter1The following is an excerpt from a story published by the GroundFloor Media’s Gil Rudawsky at Ragan’s PR Daily.

Journalists are supposed to have thick skin, hardened over the years by covering the endless stream of news and taking beatings by editors, sources, and the public.

But one veteran journalist decided he’s throwing in the towel in the new year. He’s finally had enough of the nasty reader comments and the daily grind.

Seattle Times sports columnist Steve Kelley, after 40 years and millions of words, quietly wrote his final column last week.

In an interview with the Seattle Weekly, Kelley blamed covering the same stories over and over, but also said he was driven out by the steady stream of nasty reader online comments.

“The reader comments section, it’s a free-for-all,” Kelley says. “The level of discourse has become so inane and nasty. And it’s not just at the Times, it’s ESPN, everywhere—people, anonymous people, take shots at the story, writers, each other. Whatever you’ve achieved in that story gets drowned out by this chorus of idiots.”

Read more here.


Newspaper faces crisis after it finds reporter made up sources for years

The media is usually the bearer of bad news, but what happens when one of their own violates the journalistic code of ethics?

In what is becoming an all too common occurrence, veteran reporter Karen Jeffrey from the Cape Cod Times was called out this week for being a serial fabricator. Apparently, she’d been making up sources dating back to at least the 1990s.

“In an audit of Jeffrey’s work, Times editors have been unable to find 69 people in 34 stories since 1998, when we began archiving stories electronically,” Times editors wrote this week in an apology to readers.

According to journalism think tank Poynter.org, this is the third instance this year of a mass fabrication by journalists. That’s on top of other instances of fabrication that don’t fall into the “serial” category.

Read more at Ragan’s PR Daily.

Who wins when reporters cut and paste press releases?

Journalists and PR pros are closely watching the ongoing dispute between Steve Penn and his ex-employer, the Kansas City Star, regarding a controversy over press releases.

The Kansas City Star claims Penn, a former columnist at the paper, plagiarized by using material from press releases in his columns without attribution. He countersued last week saying that it’s commonplace in newsrooms to cut and paste from press releases.

It’s not plagiarism, because the writers of press releases give up ownership of the information when they send it to a newsroom, according to Penn’s suit. The suit adds that it’s a regular practice for reporters to crib from press releases.

The situation raises interesting issues. Having been on both sides of this argument—in the newsroom and in the PR world—I can tell you that reporters regularly cut and paste information from press releases. And that’s exactly what PR practitioners hope they will do.

Is it a good practice on the part of reporters? No, but it certainly does help, particularly as newsroom staffs continue to dwindle.

The issue has caused quite a stir in journalism circles. The dozens of comments on a story about the case posted by journalism think-tank Poynter.org ran the gamut:

• Press releases are written to be “plagiarized.” In fact, that’s the PR home run. A story appears just as you wrote it.
• Press releases are useful but must be treated with the same skepticism as any other piece of information: their sources identified, their assertions accepted only provisionally until checked for accuracy by other means.
• It’s as simple now as it was back in school: If you didn’t write it, don’t put your name on it as though you did.
• It’s lazy and dishonest, but not plagiarism.
• If journalists don’t write their own stuff or even fact-check the materials they’re given, what exactly are they being paid for?

The standard in newsrooms is that before a reporter uses a press release in a story, it must be checked out and information must be rewritten. There are a couple of reasons why this should be done.

Reporters must be sure the information in the release is true and accurate. It’s too easy to get duped by a fake release, and information may not always be right.

The rewriting rule has to do with different audiences. A news report is written more conversationally, and press releases can be overwritten by multiple authors, including the legal team. Plus, whether it’s plagiarism or not, a reporter worth his or her salt would never use someone else’s wording.

But that standard is hard to follow, particularly on deadline. If there’s a quote in a press release relating to a news story a reporter is covering, it’s just too easy to cut it and paste it right in the story.

It happens all the time, and that’s exactly what the PR world wants when they send a press release. We want it to be printed just as we wrote it. Do we expect that to happen? No, but it’s nice when it does.

Depending on which side you are on, fortunately, or unfortunately, it’s becoming more frequent.

(This post also appears on Ragan’s PR Daily.)