PR exec questions ethics

Letters to the Portland editor: February 29, 2008
By LETTERS TO THE PORTLAND EDITOR  |  February 27, 2008

Maine Public Relations Council members who attended a recent professional development session were stymied by a story you published this month (see "Ask, And Ye Shall Receive From Channel 13," by Dave Brady, February 1). Dave Brady was one of three USM students invited by our scholarship committee to attend at no charge. We were surprised he abused this invitation — and arguably violated journalistic and communication ethics — by not revealing his media affiliation or sharing his intention to publish an article about the session.

Mr. Brady’s understanding of the Media Relations session content was not entirely accurate. This was a professional seminar, not a “meeting.” Three journalists representing weekly publications, a trade journal, and television news shared information useful to PR practitioners, yet Mr. Brady only briefly described one panelist’s comments and devoted the remainder of his column to WGME reporter/anchor Gregg Lagerquist. He misquoted Mr. Lagerquist, in some cases giving an erroneous impression of the speaker’s intent and misleading your readers.

Mr. Lagerquist said WGME rarely plans in advance. Mr. Brady interpreted this as “We rarely think in advance.” Ask any television news editor how far ahead they can plan most of their broadcast on a given day. You’ll find it’s only hours. And they routinely present more than one side of a story. A comment about WCSH’s Cindy Williams was completely garbled. Mr. Lagerquist’s point was “know the media you’re pitching.” When a caller to WGME says “We love Cindy,” it’s obvious they haven’t paid attention to which station Cindy works for.

It’s disappointing Mr. Brady’s story was inaccurate. I’m sorry a respected journalist was treated shabbily in your pages, and that readers won’t benefit from what he said. At least the professionals who attended gained useful information for working with local media.

Martha J.M. Davoli
Director, Public Information & Media Services
Maine Medical Center

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