Reading List: Really, Like You Never Make Mistakes?

Thanks to a Facebook update from Jeremy Pepper, came across a story on Business Insider that I might not have ever read.  Given the grinding of my molars about now, I wish I hadn’t.    Jeremy’s a good guy, and not one to piss of the press without cause, so when he posted the following on his timeline, I had to click through.

The never-ending PR sucks article moving hack/flack relations forward. Thankfully, hacks never makes mistakes.

In the story, writer Steve Kovach takes down Bryan Leeds who apparently handles public relations for Xsync, a company developing “optical message service” that enables you to send files between to mobile phones.  In pitching Kovach and Business Insider’s SAI team, Leeds made two mistakes, so far as I can tell.  1) He failed to update the header of an email message and mistakenly called the SAI guys Techcunch, an understandable insult.  2) He is a PR  guy pitching a story.

In the first instance, Leeds made a mistake, as in: we’re all human. We’ve all made mistakes. Get over it, Steve.

In the second instance, Leeds was doing his job, which in significant part, makes it possible for Steve to do his.

Unless, of course, Kovach is from the old school of dumpster-diving, public records-sifting, source-developing scoop journalists that helped establish technology writing as a true journalistic endeavor. (And for which, Steve, you can thank guys like Sam Whitmore and Paul Gillin, and  the original reporting team at PCWeek who set a very high bar that few have cleared since.)

But Kovach doesn’t like to get pitched.  He says so in the top of his rant story. So I have to assume he is one of those old fashioned PR-be-damned journalist who has gotten every story he’s ever written without the aid of a marketing person sending him a lead or a review unit or, yes, even occasionally a press release.

But I doubt.  Because that’s  not how the news business works.  There’s a whole sausage factor behind every media story. Reporters and sources and editors and fact checkers and, yes, even PR people all contribute along the way.  So this “inside baseball” look at how a news desk treats PR people (in this case “laughing at the huge fail”) reveals a whole lot more about Kovach and his SAI writers than it does about Leeds (an awkward mistake-maker) or Xsync (a presumably useful messaging service).   The jab, along with the pedantic tips on how to pitch a reporter, say “We’re special and elitist and a little bit precious, and we really don’t care that you may be reprimanded or worse by our decision to publish an email thread in which we just barely black out your contact information, but do fully expose your error.  Because you are PR scum.  We are journalists, ergo we are better than you are.”

It’s not the first time this story has been written, and sadly, it won’t be the last.  This story did nothing for enlighten the readers of Business Insider other than give them a little look at the sometime horror show that is getting the news to the table.  But it probably made Kovach feel special.

Then again, I could be wrong.  On closer reading of Kovach’s last repsonse tot he hapless Leeds, he writes (and forgive me for taking this out of context above):

We’re laughing at the huge fail on our end.

Maybe Kovach realized what a dumb story he’d written, after all.


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