(UPDATE: Better phrasing here) As part of a scheduling e-mail, a Wired contributing editor was inadvertently sent notes that Microsoft agency Waggener Edstrom had taken on him (it's not clear who the e-mail came from).
Obviously this was a mistake.
Said journalist, Fred Vogelstein, wrote here about the dossier (.pdf of the notes available here).
WE president Frank X. Shaw wrote about the exchange here.
Wired EIC Chris Anderson wrote about the exchange here.
Those with no concept of journalism and PR will obviously think these notes as Draconian or Big Brotherish, but it's no different than what journalists do. They just normally stay in house.
And, to be fair, PR professionals are supposed to be guarding of their clients - so nothing in that document is crazy surprising.
It would be much worse if, say, a reporter mistakenly e-mailed something (intended for his or her editor) to a source saying how he/she was excited to make a company look bad.
But this snafu is likely bad for WE, as it is a simple the case of the agency engaging in an error that has brought Microsoft (likely) unwanted press.
One interesting tangent.
In Vogelstein's post, he wrote, "Should I be flattered that they worked so hard, or should I be embarrassed at being co-opted by their spin machine? I'd like to think I would have written the same story no matter what. But now, through the miracle of transparency, you, the reader, get to decide that too."
Shaw's sideway retort was, "But the story is out, like any piece of work there are things to agree with and not, and we’ll leave it at that. Or, we can hope that the writer will post his interview notes from all the people he talked to, but I don't think that is likely to happen. :)"
I think it unwise for journalists to triumph "transparency" unless we release all of the notes and documents that go into the assembling of the story. Vogelstein's assertion that posting a document that embarrasses the agency without any introspective admissions himself makes the transparency claim, I think, a bit foolish.
What say you?
The final word from Wired EIC Anderson
And so on. By the way, as far as I can tell, everything in the memo is accurate. I also think the executives were very well served by the document; they did indeed stick to their message and they got pretty much the story they wanted. This was also, as it happens, the story I wanted--or was it just the story I thought I wanted because I was so effectively spun by Microsoft's PR machine? The mind reels...