Friday, March 29, 2013

Rent a reporter? Journalist ethics at their finest!

On Thursday we talked about a recent article that has been all over various internet discussion sites.

The Financial Post profiled an aging Boomer couple who was preparing to retire. The column was about  unlocking the potential wealth of their bubble inflated home without selling and downsizing.

The article then profiled a Vancouver mortgage brokerage company (Invis Team Rob Regan-Pollock) and spoke to it's owner about solutions that could be utilized for the couple.

It was a great, informative article and fabulous PR for Invis Team Rob Regan-Pollock (Team RRP).

But what you weren't told was that the husband from that aging Boomer couple just happens to be an employee of Team RRP, an omission which raised shades of the MAC Marketing deception last month wherein company employees were planted in a media story.

The big difference is that MAC outwardly lied about the identity of the employees.  This time the identity of the Team RRP employee is conveniently not revealed.

When the online community discovered the omission, the first question they asked was "why is a Toronto writer profiling a Vancouver mortgage broker for information about a finance issue when there are so many sources in Canada's financial centre?"

(and why use one of the broker's employees to profile with a professional news photo shoot?)

Sharp-eyed sleuths noticed that the author of the article, Denise Deveau, appears to work for a communications company known as BlueSky.

BlueSky Communications specializes in obtaining media coverage for their clients. So was Denise Deveau working as a reporter for the Financial Post when she wrote the article or was she working as a communications specialist with BlueSky?

Making this story even murkier is this website for Echo Communications

Echo Communications appears to specialize in the same field as BlueSky:
At Echo, our focus is on creating echoes - crafting the right message, spreading the word, and hearing it come back in a stronger and bolder form. Our echoes close the loop between strategic public relations planning and program execution... Today, Echo provides a range of public relations, corporate communications and business writing services that exceed expectations... Our team includes a network of highly experienced consultants, each with no less than ten years of experience and the same unwavering focus on delivering results.
Echo profiles the members of their 'team' and curiously there is a Denise J. Deveau who works for Echo too.

It's a background description very similar to the Denise Deveau at BlueSky Communications:

LinkedIn shows a Denise Deveau out of Toronto who is a freelance writer and contributes to several publications including the Financial Post:

The questions multiply: when Deveau wrote the Financial Post article, was she working for the Financial Post as a staff writer, a freelance writer or was she working for one of her clients at one of these Communications firms (or others)?

Did the story get "placed" in the Financial Post like the recent  'news for hire' controversy we recently profiled in the Vancouver Province? If it's a paid 'newsertising' piece and we're not informed it's an advertising feature, that's despicable enough.

But what if there a third, disturbing element at play here?

Both BlueSky and Echo promote their ability obtain media access.  As BlueSky says: "We are particularly talented in getting continuous media coverage for our clients that communicates directly to the target market."

If Deveau was working for the Financial Post as a freelance writer AND was also working for a communications company on behalf of Team RRP, doesn't this become a situation where her access to the media is being leveraged for profit?

If a cop or a politician does this, it's called bribery. It's illegal and a violation of the public trust.

What would this say about the trust we have in our media if that's the case here and it's not disclosed?


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  1. Has anyone sent this to the Financial Post?

  2. This is how the super wealthy manipulate the news. Multiple cross ownerships. Omit what doesn't fit the owner's political or business mandate. Sad ++

  3. Wispy
    Great work dude!!

  4. Do this search: "Public Relations",or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.44442042,d.cGE&biw=1280&bih=607&wrapid=tljp1364607124104045&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl

    And now try and figure out what proportion of the so called news provided by MSM does not have some degree of tilt based on a paying customer somewhere. Human beings are naturally lazy. Just like latching on to and hoping that just one leveragewd bet in real estate should pay for ones retirment, for 70% of the population, is the lazy man's version of not having to save for your future. Similarly, filling up time slots and page space with news fed from the red dots on the google map search is the lazy journalist in the MSM's way of not having to work hard at their job.

    Does anyone wonder why the TV news and newspapers are always the same length. Because they are essenteally like paid slots on the Home SHopping Network. One of the things I noticed about the Financial Post when I first moved to Vancouver in the mid 90s was that not only was the paper always the same size, but every news item was allocated the same amount of space in the paper. Either this was the ultimate experiment in news socialism, where every news was given the rights to the same amount of column space, or it helped manage contributions from a diverse set of sources easily.

    Anyway, i went on a news fast in the late 90's because Dr. Weil told me to, and have never returned to the MSM. I don't feel I am misinformed. Now I am free to do targeted news discovery as opposed to being news fed.

  5. There's a somewhat wider issue here, which is the continued and deserved fall of journalism in public esteem; linked to this is the plain fact that it's just harder and harder to earn a living as a "writ-ah" of any description in the internet age, meaning that people who had ambitions of being the next investigative sleuth find themselves being shills just to eat. Not excusing it by any means, just explaining it. The time when people should be banned from speaking on behalf of corporations unless they are licensed and registered to do so, thereby professionalizing the communications industry and making people's objectives in doing this kind of thing clear, is long overdue. Craig Sterling

  6. I agree. Didn't mean to be too hard on the individuals. It is the system. Lot's of reasons, but the end result is not trustworthy.

  7. Journalistic integrity = oxymoron


  8. I doubt she was paid to do the article (given that is illegal and would land her and the FP in hot water). But I can imagine there was some sort of quid pro quo that caused her to write the article.

  9. Whisperer,

    The only person having fun in Canadian journalism right now is YOU! Keep going.

  10. Oh, wow. Seriously? You need to get a life, and an education in business. I highly doubt this is exactly the best example of a conspiracy in journalism. Work harder before climbing your mountain.