National Press Club Disappointed to Learn PRSA Banned Reporter From Meeting

Oct 19, 2011, 11:51 ET from National Press Club

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following statement was released today by Mark Hamrick, President of the National Press Club.


The National Press Club was disappointed to learn that the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) banned veteran reporter Jack O'Dwyer from covering the PRSA General Assembly last weekend in Orlando. We understand that Mr. O'Dwyer has covered the event for more than 40 years. We also understand that Mr. O'Dwyer and the PRSA have had a long running series of disagreements that have tested and continue to test their relationship.  The nature and content of these disagreements is of great concern to both PRSA and Mr. O'Dwyer.

What we find concerning is the solution chosen by the PRSA, which was to ban a reporter who will write stories that may be critical of their organization. We asked PRSA to reconsider its position and to allow Mr. O'Dwyer in. We suggested that if he behaved in a disruptive way he should be removed. PRSA was unwilling to do this.

They have prepared a 23-page letter that says Mr. O'Dwyer is not an ethical reporter. Mr. O'Dwyer  sent us the letter himself (twice) for our review as did the PRSA. While we find many of the points in the letter unfortunate and even highly disagreeable we do not think they constitute a reason to ban a reporter who has been allowed access for 40 years. Public relations professionals might have some ethical issues with individual reporters and no doubt journalists must cover and report on the activities of public relations people they find to be unethical. And we are sure this discussion will still be going on years from now as it was years ago.

On the issue of access for reporters, however, we are generally in favor of it as long as the reporters do not disrupt events. Asking difficult questions designed to get answers that an organization would rather not provide is not disrupting an event. We would rather see a group like PRSA allow reporters who might write negative stories about them into their events than not. We think it sets a good example for their members whereas banning reporters does not.  

We live in a world where journalist access is too often and too easily denied. We hope PRSA will reconsider their approach and decide next year to hold a convention that does not ban any reporters who wish to cover their activities.

Founded in 1908, the National Press Club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists. With 3,300 members worldwide, the Press Club hosts more than 2,000 events per year which bring more than 250,000 guests to the Club.

SOURCE National Press Club