PR Society of America, in barring reporters as members, opens itself to legal action as well as trial in the Court of Public Opinion. It allows employees of BusinessWire as members, so why not reporters?

augustaTom O’Connell, a BW employee, is on the board of the Detroit chapter and BW employee Katie Kennedy is on the board of the Cleveland chapter.

To be consistent, the Society should allow employees of other information-disseminating companies including websites and publications carrying news and information of the industry.

Two institutions that barred classes of people as members—the Augusta National Golf Club (women) and Boy Scouts of America (gays) did so legally for many years but have retreated from their policies in the face of public opinion.

Augusta admitted two women as members in 2012  after fighting this since 2002.

The Boy Scouts of America, after a long fight with gay groups and others, admitted youths who are gay as of Jan. 1, 2014 while still barring adult gays as leaders.

It would be illegal, for instance, for owners of Augusta to allow women as members who were relatives of the owners while denying that status to other women. Boy Scout executives could not allow young sons who are gay while denying membership to others.

That is what the PR Society is doing in allowing members from BusinessWire and other suppliers while denying membership to reporters who may also be performing PR duties.

Nearly one-third of the 300 members of the New York Financial Writers Assn. are “freelance” and many of them are working on assignments from private corporations as well as contributing materials to traditional media. They are practicing both journalism and “PR.”

The 14th Amendment guarantees “due process” in a court of law and its principles should obtain in the Court of Public Opinion. Justice should be available to all and it shouldn't require a lawsuit.

Society Board Is E-mailed

The following e-mail has been sent to PR Society chair Joe Cohen, chair-elect Kathy Barbour, secretary Blake Lewis and the 14 other directors.

From writings on the 14th Amendment:

O’Connell, Kennedy
BusinessWire’s Tom O’Connell and Katie Kennedy are PRSA members.

Developments in the 1950's underscored the importance of fair administrative procedures. This was the time of McCarthy­ism and the red-baiting that went with it. Rumors generated by faceless informers were widely used to deprive government employees of their jobs because of doubts raised about their loyalty and security.

The resulting inquiries often left the employees with their honor challenged but no realistic possibility of response. They emphasized the value, in an administrative context, of procedural protections long associated with Anglo-American criminal trials:

--The right to have the assistance of counsel;
--The right to know one's accuser and the evidence against one;
--The right to confront and cross-examine that person;
--The right to have decision based solely upon a record generated in open proceedings;
--The right to present argument and evidence on one's own behalf.

Wikipedia Notes New BSA Policy

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), one of the largest private youth organizations in the United States, has policies which prohibit atheists, agnostics and, until January 2014, prohibited all "open or avowed" homosexuals   from membership in its Scouting program. The ban on "open or avowed" homosexuals  adults from membership remains in effect.

BSA has denied or revoked membership status or leadership positions for violation of these foundational principles. On May 23, 2013, the BSA's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone effective January 1, 2014.

The policy for adult leaders remains in place: "[BSA does] not grant membership to [adults] who are open or avowed homosexuals"

These policies have led to various disputes and controversies. In 2012, both President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stated that they opposed the ban on gay Scouts.