Tuesday, March 07, 2006

New York Times Casablanca Shocker

The New York Times today expressing shock -- SHOCK -- that PR professionals are approaching bloggers directly to influence what they post. Bloggers are even picking up things written by flacks and reprinting full sentences verbatim without attribution to the source, the Times says.

Frankly, I haven't seen acting like this since that scene from Casablanca when Police Inspector Renaud (Claude Rains) raids Rick's cafe, announcing that he's shocked -- SHOCKED -- to learn that gambling is going on there. Of course, the Maitre'd immediately comes over and hands Renaud his winnings for the evening.

Hey, New York Times, gotta another great news flash for you -- "Earth Still Round."
No? How about "Sky Not Falling."

This is not new. This has been going on in the mainstream media as long as it has existed, with PR pros pitching reporters daily -- even at the New York Times. That flacks are trying to do the same with bloggers is just a natural development, as bloggers build their audiences of readers (usually at the expense of conventional media, which may be what this is really all about).

As to bloggers freely using donated copy from flacks, that is a standard practice with conventional media as well -- reporters do it every day, even at the Times.

The dirty little secret among reporters is that they don't mind getting rolled as long as they either agree with what's being pitched or the story is juicy enough. And if someone hands you ready-made copy perfect for printing, so much the better. No work or critical thought required.

And I think it's a little inappropriate for the Times to be claiming the high moral ground here, while still recovering from a plague of bad reporting and even fabricated stories by its reporters.

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