Although the PRSA Assembly is usually a very hostile setting for us, a sudden break occurred in the afternoon session when about 20 delegates formed a line and each one presented us with a pen.

The incident was videotaped by one of the participants and put on Youtube.

Bewildered at first, we didn’t know what to make of this sudden burst of recognition.

Only one or two delegates had approached us during the Assembly although we were highly visible sitting at a table on the right side of the delegates about midway to the podium.

We were the only reporter, as usual, at the Assembly.

The line of cheerful delegates suddenly formed as we were interviewing Art Stevens on the defeat of the attempt to put non-APRs on the board.

Each delegate placed a pen in our hand and walked away without explanation.

Finally, one of them said our blogs on the APR issue had become a “flashpoint” in social media and we were being honored for that.

'A Beautiful Mind' Was Inspiration


Crowe in 'A Beautiful Mind' is presented with pens by Princeton professors. (Image via)
Friends later noted that what was being copied was an incident in the movie "A Beautiful Mind" starring Russell Crowe as John Nash.

Nash, a schizophrenic, was known to have had a very difficult life despite his brilliance. He had problems in his marriage and getting along with other professors. He was erratic in showing up at class.

But when he won a Nobel Prize in economics in the film, his fellow professors at Princeton lined up and each one presented him with their pens as a tribute to his accomplishment.

Pens given this way have come to symbolize the power of the pen over the sword and that this is how “the literati” honor each other for achievement (comments in a Google discussion of the incident).

Independence of Delegates Is Shown

What it showed to us is that at least 20 of the delegates do not accept the spin of Society leaders that we’re out to do harm to the Society.

The pens recognize the accuracy of our many thousands of words on the APR issue which got into print in spite of heavy-handed efforts by the Society to block such reporting.

Some members of the e-group that debated the APR issue paid no attention to warnings that they could be prosecuted under New York State laws if they as much as forwarded one of the e-mails to anyone or made more than one copy.

Nearly 200 comments were posted which should have been available to every member and also to non-members since the Society always says it is concerned with “the profession” as well as members.

Committee Needs to Keep Working

The pen-awarding ceremony by the delegates is another indication of a spreading revolt against the massive withholding of key information that mars leader and staff practices.

The Committee for a Democratic PRSA, although trounced by the APR fans at the Assembly, garnered 305 signatures and another 150 on a document that was presented to leadership.

We’re hopeful the CDP will continue its work by demanding that a transcript of the Assembly and a roll call vote be made available.

Both are essential if the Society can make any claim to being “democratic.”

Members have a right to know how their delegates voted.