By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Mark Worth's diatribe against journalists who have gone over to the "dark side" left me wondering if he isn't perhaps the one who is in the wrong profession (Media Culpa, "Hacks Turned Flacks," 7/9; also see Mark Worth's Media Culpa column, this issue). He presented a great deal of innuendo, but precious little evidence, that those he named are somehow steering reporters away from big stories and crucial information. Worth wrote colorfully of his bad experiences with a previous Boeing flack, but failed to illustrate that Sean Griffin is guilty in any way of similar sins. And if Worth were to carefully read his abridged version of Rebecca Hale's comments, he might realize that, despite his spin, she was not saying she didn't know the difference between journalism and public relations.
Worth implies that Debbie Cafazzo left a PR job with the city of Seattle because she is "scrupulously honest." I know that she is, since she was a reporter at the Journal American when I was city editor. But I doubt seriously Cafazzo was saying public relations is generically dishonest.
In anything--including journalism-- there are good people and bad people, good positions and bad positions. I recently left the news business after 20 years and am now a "flack" at the University of Washington. In my office, it was made clear from the outset that we are there to assist reporters, not to steer them in any particular direction or to quell negative publicity.
Perhaps Worth's brand of journalism--and the fact that it is not just tolerated but embraced--best explains why so many good people are fleeing the profession. If I were a city editor and had Worth's application before me, one read of his last column would be enough to land his résumé in the round file. Vince Stricherz via e-mail Hacked off
Apparently Mark Worth ("Hacks Turned Flacks," 7/9; see Worth's Media Culpa column, this issue) thinks a person who moves from the news business to the public information business sheds his or her honesty and integrity. That is pure paranoiac nonsense. Anyone who has worked as a professional journalist long enough to be noticed knows that misleading reporters is counterproductive. I'll assume Worth's reports on the Boeing PR persons are accurate and in context. If so, the conduct of the spokesman who allegedly threaten to withhold information was thoroughly unprofessional and deserves severe criticism or worse. But that is not to say that because a reporter asks a question, it must be answered. However, the Boeing PR representative who was quoted as saying that he did not have "a problem representing a company position that I don't agree with," correctly understands that his job is to explain the company's position, not his own. Even an honest, virtuous reporter like Worth reports on things he doesn't agree with, but that doesn't make them untrue or wrong or unethical by definition.
I wonder what training and experience Worth believes public information people ought to have. Is it not in the public interest for a Rebecca Hale to put her professionally honed talents to work providing necessary information to the public? Or does Worth believe that untrained, inexperienced persons serve the public interest better? Or does he believe no information is appropriate unless initiated by a news person? Does Worth have such a low opinion of his fellow reporters to think that they will write fantasies when faced with information from a PR person of a similar background? Certainly not all public relations people adhere to the highest ethical standards, but then neither do all reporters. Most PR people work hard to provide accurate information for the public's benefit and the success of their clients. They often facilitate important work by news persons reporting complex or fast-breaking situations or issues. The skills of former professional newspersons are central to making available the necessary public information of government and commerce. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it. Perhaps, someday even Mark Worth may do it. Ed Isenson, APR via e-mail A colorful family
I loved Cooper Moo's feature, "My Brother and Me" (7/23). It brought back lots of memories for me. Also from Wisconsin (he writes his brother joined the family there), I'm the third of six kids and the last my mother gave birth to. Our parents also beat the early '70 directive that colors shouldn't mix.
Growing up with siblings who were African-American/white, Native American/African-American, and African-American (and we three white ones) was perfectly normal. In fact, I was about 13 years old before I learned white people could adopt white kids. Why would they want to? When you adopt, you adopt for color, I'd thought. Yes, some issues came up, but our parents focused on how different we all were in looks and temperament. Our family's world was normal and a boatload of fun. I pitied all-white families and wondered if they were ever bored. We certainly weren't. Hope McPherson via e-mail Keeping his word
In Rick Anderson's article "Garages R Us" (7/23), he states "she [Jan Drago] has also asked the public not to pester council members with calls or e-mails about center [Washington State Convention & Trade Center] construction while they're debating the issue in her committee this month." For the record, I didn't say anything like that.