NEW YORK: The PRSA has taken issue with a reference to its code of ethics that appeared in the March 3 edition of The New York Times Magazine.In a 5,700-word article entitled "Only Gossip,
journalist and novelist Kurt Andersen explored what he described as the "murky symbiosis" between reporters, press agents, and America's obsession with celebrity. Libby Roberge, PR director for the PRSA, learned that the group's principles had found their way into the piece when she received a call from a fact checker late last month.
Told that the article was pegged to the opening of the Broadway version of Sweet Smell of Success - the 1957 film modeled on the exploits of Walter Winchell - the PRSA tried to convince the magazine that it was referencing the wrong group.
"We knew what the movie was about, and it just seemed inappropriate to include the PRSA's code of ethics in a story about entertainment publicists, who have their own professional organization,
explained Catherine Bolton, the organization's executive director and COO.
She was bothered even more by the depiction given to the code, which made it seem as if the rules do not hold PRSA members accountable for their actions.
"He made it sound like we don't take enforcement seriously because of the changes we made two years ago. That totally misses the point - we're a better watchdog now,
She hopes to paint a different picture of PR in a letter she plans to write to the Times.