Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Are Ex-Journalists To Blame For Facebook's Smear Campaign?

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 12, 2011

The scandal over Facebook's PR campaign to smear Google over possible privacy violations carries an interesting wrinkle: at least two prominent ex-journalists were involved.

Miguel Helft and Claire Cain Miller reported in the New York Times that the campaign conducted by PR firm Burson-Marsteller included:

Was it some form of naivete by these former journalists? Would PR professionals have advised against the smear strategy?

I don't think it is fair to put the blame at the feet of the former journalists because PR campaigns are planned by groups that include PR professionals. Everyone knew exactly what they were trying to achieve.

It's a common practice by companies to try to get journalists to write stories that are unfavorable to a rival. It's up to the journalists -- the "gatekeepers" -- to decide if there is merit in the information.

I really don't see what all the fuss is about and why people are so shocked. It's certainly an acceptable practice during political campaigns where it has long held an important place in any strategy to win votes.
(Hat tip @Farkonia)

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