OLD Media Moves

San Francisco biz reporter barred from press conference

September 18, 2009


A San Francisco Business Times reporter was barred from attending a Bayer press conference Wednesday after the paper posted a story on its Web site speculating about what would be said.

Reporter Ron Leuty wrote, “Bayer HealthCare has decided where it will make future versions of its hemophilia drug, but it is not officially disclosing that decision until Wednesday afternoon.”

Later, the story said, “The only thing Bayer officials are saying right now is that Joerg Heidrich, the Berkeley-based global head of Bayer’s biotech product supply organization, wants to discuss the impact of the decision on the Bay Area.”

After Bayer’s PR people read the post, one of them sent an e-mail to Mary Huss, the publisher of the American City Business Journals paper, “retracting the invitation” for another of the paper’s reporter, Blanca Torres, to attend the Wednesday afternoon event.

Bayer says that the paper violated its embargo, but the paper never received any information about what was going to be said at the event, just an invitation.

The invitation, in part, read, “As mentioned, Bayer would like to invite you/your colleague to the Berkeley facility to meet with Joerg Heidrich, SVP and Global Head of Bayer HealthCare’s Product Supply-Biotech organization, who is also the Berkeley site head. Bayer has made a decision regarding the manufacturing for future versions of its hemophilia drug, Kogenate, and Joerg will discuss impact on the Bay area. Please let me know who will be attending so I can alert security.”

The e-mail from Bayer PR person Sreejit Mohan to the publisher, in part, stated, “Ron Leuty, who I’ve known for a couple of years and for whom I have been a very reliable and responsive source, was included in that list. I also spoke to Ron yesterday and during the conversation he threw out a couple of speculative thoughts. I told him that SFBT would get the full story on Wednesday as the news is embargoed.

“So, I was very disappointed to see that Ron wrote a purely speculative online story last night even after I told him he would have the full story in the next day. Every other outlet has respected the embargo. I was up in the middle of the night taking calls from Germany about the piece. Over the past three years, we have worked hard to make sure that we are a solid, reliable and responsive source for SFBT. We see Ron’s story from last night as a breach of trust and in many ways a lack of professionalism on Ron’s part.”

Wrote Leuty on his blog: “We took two Bayer aspirin and then Bayer’s press agency sent us the press release following the formal announcement.”

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry daily or weekly.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry.