UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

July 3, 2009

THE WASHINGTON POST SALON THAT WASN'T

NY Times - The Politico article prompted an immediate newsroom reaction. The Post's ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, wrote on his blog that "this comes pretty close to a public relations disaster."

Valerie Strauss, a reporter who, unlike some, was willing to speak on the record, said, "I don't believe the newsroom would ever go along with that."

It was not entirely clear how the salon idea had developed, how much people inside the company knew about it or who planned to attend. Soon after the news broke, Marcus W. Brauchli, executive editor of The Post, sent a memo to his staff saying that "the language in the flier and the description of the event preclude our participation."

In an interview, Mr. Brauchli said he had intended to go to the dinner and knew the company was seeking paying sponsors. But he said he did not see the promotional flier, or know that the event might have a single sponsor. Invitations to the event stated it was "underwritten by Kaiser Permanente."

Sybil Wartenberg, a Kaiser spokeswoman, said that despite what was written on the invitation, "we were in discussions about the event, but there was no final agreement for us to participate.". . .

In the Post's newsroom, editors and reporters reacted with dismay. Marc Fisher, the enterprise editor for local news, said people in the newsroom knew the company was considering conferences, "but I don't think that anybody envisioned that we would attempt to sell access in a very limited way, with the implication that there would be inside information only to those who ponied up big money."

LA Times - A Post reporter said the newsroom was "furious" about the plan. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the reporter said the ethics code at the paper is so strict that if reporters get so much as a coffee mug from someone they cover, they must donate the gift to charity.

"The whole thing stinks, but the money was the worst part. I was always taught that's the line you never cross," the reporter said.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, only the publisher is eligible for kickbacks.

July 3, 2009 8:54 PM  

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