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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - May 21, 2012 - Vol. 45 - No. 21 (download PDF version)


Page 8 Pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
 

Our campaign to break the PR Society’s boycott against the O’Dwyer Co. has won the support of New York State Senator Liz Krueger, the National Press Club, and PR Watch.

However, strangely on the sidelines in this battle is a group of journalists that I have belonged to for 50 years -- the New York Financial Writers Assn.

The silence of our fellow reporters no doubt has emboldened PRS to the point where it not only refuses to answer any of our questions (or the same questions put to them by four PRS Fellows), but where it had guards stationed in front of last year’s Assembly, the exhibit hall, and all conference sessions to block our entrance.

Requests for help against the boycott have been sent to 2012 NYFWA president Richard Wilner of the New York Post as well as board members Pierre Paulden of Bloomberg, Conway Gittens of Reuters and Robert Kozma of Dow Jones Newswire. As in the past when we have asked for support, no response has been received.

Other PR trade reporters were allowed to all the plenary sessions and the opening night reception of the 2011 PRS conference.

Blocking me while admitting them was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which says equal benefits must be provided at a public accommodation to everyone regardless of whether they have disabilities or not. It is illegal to give admittance to some reporters and not to others.

This writer’s complaint to the U.S. Justice Dept. because of our treatment at the 2011 conference is still being considered.

Boycott Delivered in Person

Confident of the silence of NYFWA as well as the Society of Professional Journalists, PRS COO Bill Murray and 2010 chair Gary McCormick came to my office on March 19, 2010 and told me for about an hour that I was too reprehensible a figure to deal with.

When I demanded to have the charges against me spelled out, Murray and 2011 chair Rosanna Fiske published 23 pages of them. They did not dare present them to my face. When I started to rebut them one by one on that website, the discussion was shut down after four days.

A campaign of defamation was launched by VP-PR Arthur Yann and PRS members on the Society’s own website, e-mails to Ragan, Advertising Age, PR Watch, Lucy Siegal’s blog, thegoodthebadthespin blog and others that called me “a pig,” “unhinged,” “a scoundrel,” “flat-out liar,” and one who “acts on warped, false and misleading information.”

Krueger Dumps Package of PRS Garbage

Senator Krueger took about one day to decide that the PRS boycott was improper and sent a letter May 9 to Murray saying it was “deeply concerning given your status as a tax-exempt industry trade association.”

Staffers in Krueger’s office said PRS’s response was to send a package of “materials” about me by bicycle messenger.

They were obviously dumped into the trash where they belong because Senator Krueger stuck by her opinion in which she “wholeheartedly” seconds the statement of the NPC.

NYFWA Has Long Record of Ducking

NYFWA’s current silence is no surprise to me.

It apparently does not want to do something that might annoy the PR executives who bankroll its annual “Financial Follies” that raised $388,000 in 2010 (latest year available). Cash/savings as of Jan. 31, 2011 were $576,000. Dues of $10,155 were collected.

The 70th anniversary show will be Nov. 16, 2012. About 1,000 will be present including hundreds of reporters who are guests of companies that pay $3,500 for a table of ten or $400 per ticket.

My first disappointment with NYFWA came in 1994 when NYFWA member Dean Rotbart sued me personally and the O’Dwyer Co. for $21 million, charging I libeled him with an erroneous transcript of his speech to the 1993 PRS conference, forced him to cancel a 30-city tour of his “Newsroom Confidential” workshops, and subjected him to “unfair competition.”

What I reported was that Rotbart described the influence of ads and news tips on news coverage. A former Wall Street Journal reporter and graduate of the Columbia J School, he said WSJ staffers knew about the illegal activities of Ivan Boesky, who later went to jail on various charges, but did not report them because Boesky gave the reporters so many valuable news tips.

Rotbart wondered if certain Fortune magazine writers were buttering up famous CEOs in hopes they would be hired to do bios on the CEOs. I sent writers at Fortune and other business publications who were mentioned by name large sections of the speech because they wanted to see in what context they were mentioned. Less than 800 words of the 14,000-word presentation were ever used in O’Dwyer media on the Rotbart address as advised by our law firm.

I thought I had quite a scoop and shared all my notes with NYT media reporter William Glaberson. I wanted as many journalists a possible to know what Rotbart was saying about them.

Glaberson wolfed down what I told him and wrote 926 words, almost a full column. He called up Business Week editor Stephen Shepard and quoted him as saying about Rotbart: “This guy passes himself off as an independent media critic. He’s not. He is serving the PR community and is presenting a cynical and highly warped view of the major news organizations.”

Attempts to interest NYFWA in the Rotbart suit went nowhere although the Deadline Club (New York chapter of SPJ) headlined: “Deadline Club Supports Jack O’Dwyer in Lawsuit.”

In tossing all the charges against me personally and the O’Dwyer Co., New York Superior Court Judge John Martin said I was a “good reporter.”

More than 30 PR executives, including Howard Rubenstein, contributed to an O’Dwyer Defense Fund.

— Jack O’Dwyer

 
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