Okay. We get it. There are a lot of bad, dishonest, and all-around terrible journalists out there. (Here is one such example, from the always-entertaining Daily Mail.) So let’s not make it seem like we, on the other side of the fence, have it in for PR people. But this latest egregious example of professional misconduct does, unfortunately, come from the PR side of things. (Please e-mail us examples of journalists behaving badly because we love to see career self-sabotage in action.)
At any rate, when Discover blogger Ed Yong asked a PR officer at a university for more information about a new study, he got a little more than he’d bargained for.
As Embargo Watch blogger Ivan Oransky relates:
“[Yong] understood that there wasn’t a typical peer-reviewed study published yet, but he wanted to at least speak with the author, whose contact information didn’t seem to be anywhere on the web. So he asked the press officer for those details.”
The press officer replied: “I think you have all you need for a blog.”
OH SNAP! This would be enough to make a lesser man mad, but Yong just wrote back:
“Interesting. Do you often tell journalists when you think they’ve had enough material for their reporting?”
The reply from the public information officer contained the following paragraph:
For information, I was a journalist for 15 years, which included being a newspaper editor and a magazine publisher. I am therefore suitably qualified to advise journalists. Your blog articles are about half the length of my press release and certainly a lot shorter than the JOURNAL paper, hence why I wondered why you needed yet more information. Still, I’m willing to forward any specific questions you might have as per my previous email but please don’t try to patronise me. I’m a bit too long in the tooth.
The best part is that the officer, one Aeron Haworth, has taken to Embargo Watch itself to defend himself. In one comment he (and Haworth has indeed confirmed that the comments are legit) says that he will “be letting every UK press officer know about [Yong’s] antics and he is unlikely to get cooperation from this side of the Atlantic in future. It’s a shame, as the UK produces some of the best science in the world.”
We’re eagerly watching to see how this plays out.