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October 20, 2011


Journalists are both objective reporters and advocates. Crusading journalism is part of the American culture. If a journalist sees something wrong, he or she will expose it and campaign against it. Journalists use facts in their campaigns. They have every right to express their opinions. All publications have editorial pages for this purpose.

You pose important questions. Perhaps there should be an interactive
mechanism set up through which professionals in PR can voice their point of view
and then have a conversation online with each other.

In a message dated 10/28/2011 9:51:44 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,

Jane, thank you for being gracious with your time in posting my other comment and responding to my inquiries.

As I mentioned, PRSA is trying very hard to move past this. I'm embarrassed to say that I'd not found your blog prior to Mr. O'Dwyer's including it his pitches to editors, as an example of the "broad condemnation" that PRSA’s decision not to grant him press credentials is receiving.

This leads me to two points. First, we knew there would be some criticism of our course of action, but once people see our response (http://ow.ly/7bTP7) and understand our reasons, they are generally supportive.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, I would ask, is it the role of a so-called "objective" journalist to actively advocate and campaign against an organization he/she covers? The Society of Professional Journalist's Code of Ethics (http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp) is very clear in this regard; among its tenets is this: "Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting."

Since Mr. O'Dwyer cannot ethically be both advocate and journalist, which is he?

Arthur Yann is PRSA's vice president of public relations.

Jack O'Dwyer is a sad old man fighting a battle that was over long ago. If you'd ever been involved in some of his fiction writing about PRSA over the years, you'd understand. If Jack wants to be a journalist, and get the access journalists get to PRSA Conferences that the rest of us pay for, then he should start acting like one. His stories about PRSA over the last four years have three facts right: The name of the organization, the location, and that those of us mentioned in his stories were present. Other than that, it's fiction. He should just save himself the trip - the results would be the same.

Full disclosure: I am a member of PRSA, and Assembly delegate for my local chapter, but am not involved with the national leadership.

It's sad, really, to see someone ruining his professional reputation by his behavior.

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