They went and did it anyway, and the New York Daily News, as no doubt other editorial outlets, is calling them on it. “Them” is New York State’s Joint Commission (JCOPE) on Public Ethics; it has voted to require public relations firms to advise JCOPE should they contact a newspaper’s editorial board. The original proposal was if they contact reporters as well, but that was nixed.
Most newspaper editors and, indeed, editorial writers welcome input from whomever might choose to provide it, the better to understand the dimensions of an issue they might be dealing with. And that’s as it should be. Should they be required, when they put down the telephone, to send an advisory on the contact to a state government agency? No way.
The Daily News puts it this way: “The Daily News Editorial Board engages frequently with legislative issues. We speak with elected officials (and PR pros), appointed government officials (and PR pros), independent experts (and PR pros), plus interested parties (and PR pros).
“We then formulate opinions. Some of those with whom we speak find it a happy experience. Many do not. To call this lobbying government is nuts.”
And so it is. May JCOPE’s action be tested, and rejected, in court.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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