Disclosure of PIO participation draws comments

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Last week’s Covering Health post, “News service to disclose when PIOs listen in,” and a related post on the Knight Science Journalism Tracker, have generated an interesting conversation on Twitter about disclosing in stories if a public relations person listens in on a journalists’ interview with a researcher.

I’m posting the conversation below for anyone who isn’t on Twitter or who might have missed the discussion. We’d love to hear from others about how they might handle the situation. You can either post comments below or join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #sciencePIOs.

And, remember, AHCJ is seeking input from reporters about their experiences obtaining information from the federal government, as well positive experiences or examples in which relationships between journalists and press officers work well. Please send your comments to felice.freyer@cox.net.

June 17
3:38 p.m.
AHCJ_Pia: News service will disclose in articles when press officers listen in on interviews http://bit.ly/8ZDjvR

June 22
10:47 a.m.
praeburn: Should reporters tell readers when a PIO listens in on an interview?  http://bit.ly/ctaMm5 #sciwri10

11:08 a.m.
maryknudson: I agree. RT @praeburn Should reporters tell readers when a PIO listens in on an interview? http://bit.ly/ctaMm5 #sciwri10

11:10 a.m.
matthewherper: @maryknudson @praeburn I’m not so sure. At some point, all these disclosures replace the actual story being written.

11:13 a.m.
maryknudson: @matthewherper Disclosure would just be a phrase in parentheses or set off by commas, told as fact, not grumbling…

11:14 a.m.
maryknudson: @matthewherper  I see disclosing presence of PR person as similar to explanation in a story of why reporter does not identify source

11:17 a.m.
MaryKnudson: @praeburn @matthewherper I once had an NIH PR person tell a scientist at my interview that he couldn’t say what he just said. I walked out

11:17 a.m.
RitaRubin: RT @maryknudson: I agree.  RT @praeburn Should reporters tell readers when a PIO listens in on an interview? http://bit.ly/ctaMm5

11:19 a.m.
RitaRubin: @maryknudson @praeburn @matthewherper I don’t like PIO listening in on interview, but I’m not sure my disclosure would make it into paper.

11:26 a.m.
AHCJ_Pia: RT @praeburn: Should reporters tell readers when a PIO listens in on interview? http://bit.ly/ctaMm5 #sciwri10 (AHCJ: http://bit.ly/8ZDjvR)

11:31 a.m.
RitaRubin: We can hope RT @maryknudson: Maybe only bcause it’s new thing  But if many reportrs started doing it, som would get published & then mre wld

12:20 p.m.
matthewherper: @maryknudson In a 400-word magazine story that could mean cutting the quote entirely.

1:03 p.m.
maryknudson: @matthewherper I hear u & understnd that stories are shorter now, but cld take 5 words to say interview  “attended by a PR representative”

1:16 p.m.
David_Dobbs: RT @RitaRubin: @maryknudson @praeburn @matthewherper re PIOs: for my ivws on PTSD,  VA often used TWO PIOs – 1 w ivwee, 1 a top DC brass.

1:29 p.m.
maryknudson: @David_Dobbs Yikes! That’s too much!

2 p.m.
David_Dobbs: @maryknudson was incredible.

6 p.m.
maryknudson: @GirlsSentAway Lots of jurno discussion abt whether to start mentioning in stories if a PR person sits in on an interview

6:05 p.m.
GirlsSentAway: @maryknudson Just read his post. YES, a thousand times, yes. Never occurred to me either to say in story that PIO present. BTW…con’td

6:59 p.m.
maryknudson: @GirlsSentAway Wish we had a thread of this conversation with all – @praeburn, @matthewherper, @RitaRubin, @David_Dobbs & @AHCJ_Pia’s story

6:44 p.m.
MaryKnudson: @GirlsSentAway Glad you agree.  I think none of us ever thought of including in story if PR was present, but this is relevant inf…

6:45 p.m.
GirlsSentAway: @maryknudson It’s so key! Glad @praeburn started the discussion!

6:48 p.m.
MaryKnudson: @GirlsSentAway U.S. jurnos in foreign countries say if story is read & possibly censored by foreign govt. PR presence is a form of censrshp

6:49 p.m.
GirlsSentAway: @maryknudson Whether it’s a PIO or a govt official, it’s censorship indeed!

6:59 p.m.
maryknudson: @GirlsSentAway Wish we had a thread of this conversation with all – @praeburn, @matthewherper, @RitaRubin, @David_Dobbs & @AHCJ_Pia’s story

7 p.m.
GirlsSentAway: @maryknudson Had we realized it, we could have added a hashtag. @praeburn @matthewherper @RitaRubin @David_Dobbs @AHCJ_Pia

7:03 p.m.
maryknudson: @GirlsSentAway Yup. Good issue for a story in ScienceWriters.

7:04 p.m.
GirlsSentAway: @maryknudson Paul should write it. Of course, I say that as if I know his work load!

7:07 p.m.
maryknudson: @GirlsSentAway Or maybe someone who has not stated a point of view and would also include reaction from some PIO members.

June 23
6:16 a.m.
matthewherper: @maryknudson It’s not just length. I think it’s pretty distracting to the reader when every quote is followed by several disclosures…

6:17 a.m.
matthewherper: @maryknudson @RitaRubin @praeburn I’ve rarely interviewed industry scientists without PR person on line. I need to disclose every time?

6:22 a.m.
JeffACSH: @matthewherper @maryknudson why disclosures only for industry scientists? Are they only ones with potential bias?

6:28 a.m.
matthewherper: @JeffACSH Argument started about academic scientists. Current practice is not to disclose presence of PR person for anybody.

6:49 a.m.
RitaRubin: @matthewherper @maryknudson @praeburn Same w/govt scientists, of course. I don’t even bothr asking PIO to get off line, ’cause I know answer

6:53 a.m.
maryknudson: @matthewherper @RitaRubin @praeburn If you interview 3 scientists for 1 story & a PR listened in each time, perhaps one mention covering all

6:55 a.m.
maryknudson: @JeffACSH No, this policy some journos are discussing would not be just for industry scientists. Govt agencies, hospitals, all sources.

6:56 a.m.
Jeff ACSH: @maryknudson @matthewherper good to hear.

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