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Posts Tagged ‘Margaret Sullivan’

The New York Times Agrees: Shonda Rhimes Not An ‘Angry Black Woman’

shonda_rhimes2-620x412Here’s a topical reminder that words matter on the editorial side, too. Twitter blew up — as it tends to do — this weekend thanks to a New York Times profile of Scandal /Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes. Why? Here’s the lede by Alessandra Stanley:

“When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called ‘How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman.’”

Get that? She’s black, she’s angry, and yet she somehow manages to get away with it.

It’s not that Stanley wanted to insult anyone. In the next paragraph, she writes: ”Ms. Rhimes, who wrought Olivia Pope on ‘Scandal’ and Dr. Miranda Bailey on ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ has done more to reset the image of African-American women on television than anyone since Oprah Winfrey.”

That point is settled. But Rhimes took issue with Stanley’s piece, and today NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan agreed.

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Putin/Ketchum New York Times Op-Ed Inspires PR Ethics Debate

The fact that Ketchum pitched Vladimir Putin’s controversial New York Times op-ed on Syria isn’t breaking news: We’ve already established, via ProPublica, that Ketchum places pro-Putin op-eds written by “independent businessmen” in publications like The Huffington Post and CNBC. Yet unlike those posts, this one was quite clear in its intentions, and the Times apparently handled it much like any other pitch. Op-ed page editor Andrew Rosenthal writes:

“I thought it was well-written, well-argued. I don’t agree with many of the points in it, but that is irrelevant.”

Critics pounced immediately, writing that the Times was “aiding and abetting a long-term foe of the United States” by running the op-ed. This is obviously not true, as Times public editor Margaret Sullivan notes that publication is “not an endorsement of [Putin] or his ideas” and that he didn’t get paid. Still, one reader who may or may not be this guy asks why the NYT doesn’t “…take issue with the fact that it was so obviously penned by Putin’s flacks.”

Was it? Putin’s spokesman now claims that the man himself wrote “the basic content” and that his “assistants” fleshed it out—but what about Ketchum?

General consensus calls the successful pitch “a PR coup” for Putin, but it’s led some in the industry to raise ethical issues:

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Ketchum Placed Vladimir Putin’s Controversial New York Times Op-Ed

Vladimir Putin recently took a break from using 90′s R&B to encourage Russians to reproduce in order to pen an op-ed for The New York Times.

In the article, he urges the American people to resist President Obama‘s calls for military action in Syria, writing that a missile strike “will result in more innocent victims and escalation” and even going so far as to claim that the opposition, not “President” Bashar al-Assad, was responsible for recent poison gas attacks that killed more than 1,000 men, women and children. Putin argues that the opposition, who he labels terrorists, killed their own people in order to “provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons.”

It’s a heavy charge, and Putin doesn’t shy away from characterizing the United States as an international bully that uses “brute force” to get its way; senators in both parties raced to issue statements about how terrible the article was, and this morning Leon Panetta told Today that it’s all part of Putin’s effort to “weaken” the US.

In the midst of this discussion, BuzzFeed reported—and Times public editor Margaret Sullivan tacitly confirmed—that Ketchum PR pitched the article.

Whatever your thoughts on the op-ed itself or the ethical debates regarding its placement, this is big news. How should the world respond? How should the PR industry respond?

New York Times Public Editor Wins Social Media

Looks like The New York Times has finally decided to place both feet firmly in the 21st century.

The “paper of record” suffered a few days of bad PR this week thanks to a “walk out” organized by 375 unionized employees, but the newest member of the Times management team has received excellent marks: recently appointed public editor Margaret Sullivan.

How did she win media plaudits? By being bold: A perfect example may be the public smackdown she issued to “Talk” writer Andrew Goldman today for repeatedly asking female interview subjects whether they ever used sex to advance their careers.

As New York Magazine’s Joe Coscarelli notes, Sullivan’s predecessor Arthur Brisbane hesitated to join the digital world, arguing in an exit interview that the PE job “is not a conversation”. But his replacement clearly sees things in a different light. She posts on her “Public Editor’s Journal” blog nearly every day, encouraging debates over controversial issues like Jack Welch’s nutty number-fudging conspiracy theories and the Times’ continued use of the term “illegal immigrant” in the face of protests by advocacy groups and activists.

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