OLD Media Moves

A PR person's perspective on posting interviews online

January 18, 2006

I hate to beat a dead horse, but we have yet to hear from all sides of the issue regarding Overstock.com President Patrick Byrne’s posting on the Internet of his responses to a long list of questions from BusinessWeek e-commerce editor Timothy Mullaney — before the story was published in the magazine or on its Web site.

Brendan Hodgson is a public relations professional with Hill & Knowlton in Ottawa and is a specialist in Internet communications.

Here is is perspective: “Certainly, this activity would appear to level the playing field with respect to the traditional journalist – interviewee relationship, and offer further safeguards against the potential for lazy or shoddy journalism that can occur even at the most respected of publications. It provides a clear window into the motivations of the reporter and the style of questioning being employed. Moreover, and where reporters tend to publish only small snippets of interviews, the ability to view full transcripts can provide critical context behind the selected quotes. Then again, does this activity not contradict the role of the journalist in presenting the ‘whole’ story… not simply one side, as such a transcript would present. Might one also look at the possibility that what was posted is in fact not what was said… who to believe?”

Read Hodgson’s entire post here.

Some interesting points made here. I argued at lunch today with someone who works for a national business news service that I could envision investor relations departments at companies posting these interviews on their Web site. He shot back at me that it appears as if this would fulfill a number of Sarbanes-Oxley requirements for companies as well.

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