Inside PR 377: Companies squeeze suppliers and Facebook’s hold on us

On the most recent episode of the Inside PR podcast, Gini DietrichMartin Waxman and I talk about two very different topics: the squeeze large clients are putting on their marketing partners and Facebook’s hold on young users.

The Big Squeeze

Gini kicks off the discussion about the growing number of large companies that are taking longer to pay their marketing partners. In the case of some companies, such as P&G and Mars, advertising agencies, marketing and PR partners will find themselves waiting up to 120 days – four months – for payment. And that can be crippling to a creative business. Gini has some thoughts about how PR agencies can avoid being caught in the slow payment trap. In the short term, it may come down to this: If you don’t want to play the big client game, extending your credit to people whose credit rating is is probably much better than yours, you may just have to say no. And if they won’t attempt to find a workable middle ground, you may just end up saying no to working for them.

Martin believes that this would be bad for creative agencies and for marketing itself. It used to be that creatives would be constantly breaking off of the larger agencies they worked for in order to form new ventures. And with a fresh creative perspective, many of them would land a large account that would enable them to build an agency in their own vision. Heck, that’s how Terry Fallis and I started Thornley Fallis. A couple of guys with a fresh perspective on the business working on folding banquet tables in borrowed space. But we landed B.C.E. (Bell Canada Enterprises), then GlaxoSmithKline, and then Molson. And from there, the business took off.

Is that still possible in this current environment? Martin asks, “How can you compete to win clients like this if the financial terms would put you out of business before you have a chance to grow?” Yes it is possible, but ever more difficult. In order to succeed, small agencies need to keep a focus on what has always been the most important factor. Creativity. If we can do something that’s truly remarkable and memorable, we still can thrive.

Facebook’s Hold on Youth

Recently, some have suggested that Facebook is past its prime with teens. A  study from Forrester Research indicates that Facebook still remains young people’s favorite social network. Martin agrees that Facebook may still be used by teens. But he suggests that we look at an intangible factor that may point to the future. Do teens still consider it cool? Or are they there because they have to be because their friends are there? If that’s the case, Gini suggests that teens will not remain reliant on Facebook. Older people who have left school, moved away from their hometown, and are in mid-career, rely on Facebook to keep them connected with the people that they knew at an earlier time. Teens, however, are surrounded by their social network. They don’t need Facebook to stay in touch with friends. They know who their friends are and they can easily use different media, including texting, to stay in touch with their friends.

I think there’s a different between these two questions, “Do people use it?” and “Do people feel cool when they use it?” The first question finds its answer in past behaviour. The second question points the way to future behaviour. And if that’s the case, don’t count on Facebook keeping its stranglehold on youth. For now, young users are still on Facebook. But where will they be next year?

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I wrote this post to appear first on the Inside PR Podcast blog. I’m posting it here in case you missed it there and might be interested in it.

Songza login with Google credentials: On the Web, but not iOS

I clicked over to Songza today and saw that I could log into the their Website using my Google account.

Songza Website Login That’s what I would have expected given Google’s acquisition of Songza.

Then I pulled out my iPhone to log into the Songza iOS App to listen to some music while I worked. Whoops. No can do.

iOS Songza App Facebook Login onlyIf you want to sign into Songza using the iPhone app, you don’t have the option to do so using your Google credentials. Only Facebook.

This must bug Google, the new owners of Songza. I wonder how long it will take for them to change this situation and push an update to the iOS app update through the Apple approvals process to enable users to log in with their Google credentials. Hmmm. I guess this also raises the question of whether Apple will expedite approval of the update.

Not a big thing. But interesting to me.

Attention-demanding creative doesn’t need to be expensive

Attention-demanding creative doesn’t need to be expensive. If you have a slightly off-centre, quirky eye for the unusual, you can create something remarkable, entertaining and memorable – like this video shot with nothing more than an iPhone.

All by myself from Richard Dunn on Vimeo.

I have no idea who Richard Dunn is (although I’m going to try to track him down for the Inside PR podcast.) But he kept me watching his video to the very end. Even the Celine Dion music couldn’t stop me. I just had to see how he resolved his “cry from the heart.”

Thanks for the entertainment, Richard. You’ve reminded us that we don’t need to spend a lot of money to create something interesting. We just have to have a good, off-centre perspective – and timing.

Others noticed this too:

Reddit discussion

Gawker got it

CBC Radio interviews Richard Dunn

Inside PR Podcast 374: The Right to be Forgotten and Scott Monty does it right

I missed the recording of the Inside PR podcast this week. So Martin Waxman and Gini Dietrich  recorded it as a two-hander.

In this episode, they talk about the implications of the European Court’s right to be forgotten regime and Scott Monty’s classy announcement that he has left his role as social media head for Ford.

In the past two weeks, requests by European citizens have flooded Google with requests to delete information about them from the search engine’s results. Gini points out that the European Court’s decision requiring that Google takedown information upon request does not sit well with Americans, who see this as undermining the right to free expression. Nevertheless, she advises clients with operations in Europe and elsewhere to take note of this move. It points to the need for companies operating globally to be sensitive to different values in different places. Martin is uncomfortable with the potential that this ruling holds to rewrite and obfuscate history. Where do we draw the line between someone wanting to remove a hurtful or hateful opinion and someone who wants to remove or obscure facts? The true impact of this ruling will only be known over time.

And kudos to Scott Monty for the classy way that Scott announced on his blog that he had left his role as social media head at Ford. Scott praised his team, praised the company and praised the work that they did together. Others who are announcing a move would be well recommended to look at Scott’s departure announcement as a template for the right way to handle yourself when announcing a career change. 

Finally, Interesting factoid or fiction? Martin says that Canada is the only country in the world that still celebrates Queen Victoria’s birthday as a national holiday. With fireworks no less. Is that true? Are we truly unique in the world?

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This is a slightly modified version of a post that I wrote on the Inside PR podcast blog. I’ve adapted it for ProPR so that it’s in my archive of posts.

Let’s make Terry Fallis’ new novel, No Relation, a Best Seller

If you, like me, are a fan of Terry Fallis‘ novels, you can help make his newest, No Relation, a number one bestseller by ordering your copy this week.

No+RelationNo Relation will be Terry’s fourth novel. Each of his previous books, The Best Laid Plans, The High Road, and Up and Down, brought a smile to my face and left me laughing out loud. I can’t wait for No Relation to be released next week.

As I was looking at my calendar this morning, it occurred to me that there’s something that I can do for Terry in return for all of the entertainment he provides to me. I can preorder his novel today so that it will ship to me on the date of its release. And by doing this, my preorder will be counted in his first day and first week sales.

Just like the movie business, where it’s all about the opening weekend, first week sales for a novel count more than any other. If a novel opens high on the bestseller list in its first week, others will see it and a snowball effect will follow.

So I ordered my copy of No Relation this morning.

And if you’re a fan of Terry’s writing, you can help him to chart as high as possible in its first week on the Best Sellers list. Preorder No Relation this week on the bookstore of your choice: Kobo, Amazon, or Google Play. And of course you can go to your favourite local independent bookseller.

Let’s help make Terry Fallis’s No Relation a number one bestseller on the week of its release. Order it today and be counted in week one sales.

Facebook privacy improvements are good news for marketers

Facebook, with its billion-plus active users, is a can’t-ignore platform for marketers. But there has been a longstanding problem with Facebook. Many users view with suspicion its approach to privacy and sharing data it collects about us.

Especially for people who started on Facebook early when it was truly a place where we could connect with family and friends, the terms of our implicit deal with Facebook seemed to change in an unpredictable and one-sided way. Yes, we all understand that Facebook must be a profitable company and that means monetizing the data and action of the people who use it. However, how it was doing this was to often opaque to the user and seemingly arbitrary.

Yesterday at f8, Mark Zuckerberg announced three new measures that will give users greater control of the personal information that we share with others. Even better, these measures are being implemented in a very user-friendly and accessible way, something which has not always been the case with past Facebook privacy measures.

So, what did he announce?

login3First, Facebook now will allow people to try new apps in an anonymous mode without having to give away all of our personal information simply to test the app. In my mind, this is a huge and important move on Facebook’s part.

The reality is that, in the past most people would simply agree to any of the privacy and data sharing provisions presented to them in order to get at the shiny new object that they wanted to try out. In no way could their consent be considered informed. And if we decided that we didn’t like the app, we needed to wade through a difficult-to-use app menu in order to find and delete the app.

With the change announced yesterday by Zuckerberg, users will be able test the app before giving it access to our personal data. If we like it, we can register at a later date to share our information and achieve the customization offered as a result. Giving users the ability to test a nap before they give away personal data is a huge and long overdue move.

login1Second, when a users do decide to register for an app, we now will be given greater control over which information we share with apps.

Public information will be shared as a default. However information such as our friends list, email address, birthdate and other personal information will be subject to a conscious decision to share on the users part. Each type of information to be shared will be clearly indicated on a login screen so that users can stop and consider what we are doing. Another important move that will make a difference.

Finally, Facebook is redesigning its app control panel to make it easier to see what we have shared through each app and make adjustments after we have installed them. A simple move that makes controlling our privacy attainable for even the casual user.

You won’t see these changes immediately. Facebook will introduce them gradually over the coming weeks and months. The new app control panel will appear first, within weeks according to Facebook. The anonymous login currently is being tested by a few developers, with rollout to more developers planned in the coming months. The new login should be introduced in a few months.

Anything that builds trust in the platform is good news for marketers

So, that’s what Facebook announced yesterday. Three simple and straightforward changes that go a long way to giving us greater control over our privacy on Facebook. And as such, they help to restore a degree of confidence and trust in Facebook.

Marketers should be applauding these changes. By building our trust in the platform, Facebook makes itself a more welcoming and trustworthy platform for marketers’ messages.

Yesterday was a good day for privacy. Yesterday was a good day for Facebook. Yesterday was a good day for marketers.

On Inside PR this week: Spin Sucks!

IMG_0041Spin sucks! You know it and I know it. And Gini Dietrich knows it. But even more, Gini has written a new book, Spin Sucks, in which she shows us how to replace spin with authentic communications that your community will find informative, entertaining and useful.

Spin Sucks the Book has just launched. And in this week’s episode of Inside PRMartin Waxman and I talk with Gini about the book, what it tells us, and her innovative approach to marketing the book. (If you know Gini, you wouldn’t expect anything less from her than to turn the launch of her book into a marketing experiment. She’s always thinking of how to do things better.) This included a Brand Ambassador program to spread the word about the book so that Gini could maintain a much more limited travel schedule to promote Spin Sucks than she had to maintain when promoting her previous book, Marketing in the Round. Over 800 people applied to be a Brand Ambassador, agreeing to buy the book and write a review to coincide with the launch date. Ultimately, she selected over 200 of the applicants to be Ambassadors.

If you wonder what type of results Gini got from this approach, check out the quality of the reviews on Amazon.com. High quality, Well written, persuasive reviews from people who’ve read and loved the book. (At the time I write this, there are 76 reviews of Gini’s book. Sixty five are 5 star and eleven are four star.)

It doesn’t get much better than that.

This is an excerpt from an article originally posted on the Inside PR podcast blog

How I use 76insights for content marketing

76insights logo76insights gives publishers and marketers insight into how their content is resonating with their audience. It does this through an intuitive user interface that enables them to see patterns in which pieces of content are resonating, on which channels and social networks, and with whom. They can identify specific pieces of content that they want to further share with their audience and click out to the native application or their preferred application such as HootSuite to republish and share.

76insights is very different from any other social media tool that I have seen. And after I’ve described it to people, I often see that they are still puzzled about it.So this weekend, I decided to record a video showing how I use 76insights to do my work as a member of the Thornley Fallis content marketing team.

In this video I demonstrate how I use the analytics dashboard to identify patterns in which of our content was most resonant with our community, to identify who was interacting with that  content, and then to share items that I think will be of interest to one or more of my communities on different social networks.

76 insights is being rolled out by invitation to select content marketers and publishers. If you’re interested in knowing more or even in becoming one of the early adopters, click over to the 76insights site to find out more and, if you’d like, to request an invitation to be an early user.

Disclosure: 76insights has been developed by my colleagues at 76design and I’m proud as punch of what they are creating.

Gini Dietrich tells Third Tuesday why Spin Sucks

Gini Dietrich is coming back to Canada. Even better, she’s coming back to Third Tuesday.

Gini DietrichGini will be doing the Canadian launch of her new book, Spin Sucks, at Third Tuesday Toronto (#3tYYZ) on April 7 and then at Third Tuesday Ottawa (#3tYOW) on April 8.

“We live in a world where content farms, Internet spiders, and fake accounts have the potential to ruin one’s experience online,” Gini says. “It certainly would be easy – and quite possible to even make some quick money – by sitting back and gaming the systems.”

At Third Tuesday, Gini will talk about what is wrong with:

  • Whisper campaigns;
  • Astroturfing;
  • Media manipulation; and
  • Unethical business practices.

She’ll show us that these tactics aren’t necessary to achieve results. She will talk about how to communicate honestly, responsibly, openly, and authentically, to truly earn the trust of our customers, stakeholders, investors, and communities. And she’ll illustrate her talk with case studies on the organizations that are doing things ethically and responsibly…and winning.

Bonus

Every attendee will receive a copy of “Spin Sucks” when you check in at the event. So, you not only can hear and meet Gini Dietrich, you can get your copy of the book personally signed by the author.

Register online to attend

third_tuesday_140px_square

Don’t miss the chance to see Gini and get your copy of Spin Sucks. Register online to attend Third Tuesday Toronto (#3TYYZ) or Third Tuesday Ottawa (#3tYOW).

I hope to see you there.

Thank you to our sponsors

Third Tuesday is supported by great sponsors – Cision Canada and Rogers Communications – who believe in our community and help us to bring speakers not just to Toronto but to Ottawa as well. Without the sponsors we couldn’t make Third Tuesday a truly Canadian affair. So, thank you to the sponsors of the Third Tuesday 2014 season: Cision Canada and Rogers Communications.

We want students to be able to attend

Third Tuesday is a great opportunity to hear about the latest developments in social media and to network with business and thought leaders. And we don’t want students to miss out on this opportunity. So, if you are a student and would like to attend, don’t let the admission fee stop you. Simply present your student ID card at the time you sign into Third Tuesday and we’ll refund your admission fee, courtesy of Thornley Fallis.

Outside payments to journalists and independent, impartial Journalism at the CBC: A definitive guide

CBC News is in the throes of a crisis of conscience about the previously-undisclosed practice of its journalists to accept paid speaking engagements from organizations that are frequently covered in the news.

This episode has been driven by coverage by bloggers and online news sources. Thanks to their pressure and complaints from the public, CBC has initiated an internal review of its policies and CBC’s Ombudsman already has weighed in urging CBC management to change the current practice and either adopt a higher standard of disclosure or ban outside payments.

Who said what

This story may be about simple principles. But it has been complex in its unfolding, with a number of players speaking out over time.

Sifting through the sources and arguments can be time consuming. But it is worth doing. So, to help readers get up to speed quickly, I’ve compiled a list of what I consider to be the primary sources with key content excerpted and brief explanatory notes where required.

I hope you find this helpful in understanding how this issue has unfolded.

The story about Rex Murphy breaks

Rex Murphy and big oil: friends with benefits?Press Progress

If you Google the heck out of Murphy’s name, you’ll discover that he’s Newfoundland’s most eligible keynote speaker at oil, gas and mining industry events all across the country. Since 2009, Murphy has been spotted or booked at the podium as a keynote speaker not once, not twice, but at least 25 times.

Big Oil knows what they’re getting with Murphy because the National Speakers Bureau, which negotiates Murphy’s speaking fees, includes a snippet of his friendly views with an embedded YouTube video in his profile. It’s called “Rex Murphy of CBC’s Point of View Rips into Environmentalists.”

Rex Murphy energy speech in Alberta, November 2013Youtube user Gazzornenplat

Rex Murphy, the oilsands and the cone of silenceAndrew Mitravica

In early January, I started researching the number and content of speeches that Rex Murphy has made about the oilpatch and the petroleum industry generally.

I found that Murphy has made several speeches to oil-friendly audiences who lap up his cheerleading about the industry and his wisecracks about Neil Young, environmentalists and do-nothing Easterners, including his CBC colleagues.

…I was wondering how responsible CBC News executives were in permitting Murphy to disparage Young and other oilsands opponents on the public airwaves without informing viewers that he had championed that very development in a so-called ‘speech’ several weeks earlier.

On January 30, I provided a lengthy list of questions for Murphy and the CBC respectively to Corey Black, a CBC News publicist. The questions concerned Murphy’s speaking fee, the speech’s content and journalistic probity…

I also requested an on-the-record interview with Murphy and a senior CBC news journalist. Six days later, on February 5, Black informed me that Murphy had “declined” to be interviewed. … Black never answered my questions. Instead, he bounced me to another CBC media relations guy, Chuck Thompson.

In a cryptic February 6 email, Thompson referred me to a short blog post by Jennifer McGuire, CBC News editor-in-chief, that — according to him — “addressed the matter” and my many questions.

McGuire’s post is dated — you guessed it — February 6. It is a hollow, self-serving bit of exculpatory nonsense that limply suggests that because Murphy enjoys a “freelance relationship” with the CBC, neither he, nor the CBC, has a duty or responsibility to disclose that he’s likely pocketing money from powerful outside vested interests on subjects that he rails about on the CBC.

McGuire’s note is also the cynical product of a bait-and-switch: Find out details from a reporter about the pending story’s potentially embarrassing focus, then “get out in front” of it to suggest that you’ve already “addressed” the issue. (McGuire also refused to be interviewed.)

A Question of ConflictJennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief, CBC News

The most important thing to understand is that Rex is not a regular reporter. He appears on The National as a commentator precisely to do analysis and offer his point of view on issues of the day. His work has to be approved by editors at The National and has to meet a clear and straightforward threshold: that it be rooted in fact and experience, not just opinion or kneejerk ideology. But taking a provocative stand is what we pay him to do.

As much as Rex is identified with the CBC, he is not a full-time employee of the CBC. We have a wonderful freelance relationship that allows him to appear on The National and host CBC Radio One’s Cross-Country Checkup. As a freelancer, Rex has the ability to do other work. So yes, he writes opinion pieces for The National Post. And yes, he does speaking engagements.

He is not alone. Other prominent CBC personalities are freelancers, too. When they’re not at CBC, people such as David Suzuki and Bob McDonald have more freedom to express their views in ways that full-time journalists at CBC News do not. Our regular staff abides by rules in our Journalistic Standards and Practices which state that “CBC journalists do not express their own personal opinion because it affects the perception of impartiality and could affect an open and honest exploration of an issue.”

The bottom line is that we are comfortable with the rigour of our policies, our editorial procedures, and our editorial leaders. And while it’s fine for people to challenge his views, I want to say explicitly that we’re comfortable with the content Rex has done for The National and Cross-Country Checkup, and we’re confident about his independence – his point of view is his own.

This issue reminds us of the benefits of being more transparent with our audience. We are working on that all the time …. And we’ve already launched an active discussion about what information the audience should expect to have about the outside activities of our journalists.

Rex Murphy is paid by the oilsands and the CBC won’t disclose or discuss itJesse Brown – Download Canadaland podcast episode

How much money have Oil Sands companies paid to Rex Murphy? When did the CBC and The National Post learn of this? Why won’t Rex Murphy answer questions about this? Why won’t the The National disclose his relationship, when they’ve disclosed lesser conflicts of interest in the past? What’s going on at The National anyhow? How could they possibly think this is okay, or that nobody would notice?

Speaking my mind, no matter the issueRex Murphy

I’ve given a lot of talks — perhaps more than a thousand. … And yes, I often get paid for my bon mots — usually more than a dollar.

Curiously, during all those encounters, spanning (sadly for me) five decades — I have not had so much as a single suggestion that anything I have said anywhere during that long saga was anything but my own words, flowing from my own motivations, and not opinions “for hire” to whomever I spoke.

Not once … till now. I value independence of thought and expression, intensely. If my thoughts are not my own, they are nothing.

Yet some bloggers now are questioning my commitment to that principle, thanks largely to a talk I gave recently to Business Forum, a gathering sponsored by the Calgary-based Bennett Jones law firm, featuring oil executives, First Nation leadership, premiers of Alberta and New Brunswick, and delegates from over the world.

In my speeches, I have a few goals. I try to give a good effort. I try to be interesting, sometimes even reach for humour. But what I absolutely guarantee is that what opinions people hear from me are mine. … I have never on television, in a column or in a speech said, written or delivered any views other than my own and what I actually believe. That’s my practice and I don’t much intend to change.

Jonathan Kay defends Rex MurphyJesse Brown Download podcast episode

Rex Murphy won’t answer questions about taking Oil Sands money , but his editor, The National Post’s Jon Kay, will.

The CBC responds to my complaint about Rex MurphyLorne Warwick

Lorne Warwick published the text of a letter he received from Jack Nagler, CBC’s Director of Journalistic Public Accountability and Engagement, in response to Warwick’s complaint, in which Nagler says:

While I don’t believe there is a conflict of interest, there is a serious issue about transparency, one that we are reviewing at the moment.

the very reason Mr. Murphy appears on The National is to do analysis and express his point of view – he is not a regular reporter. We even call his segment on the program “Rex Murphy’s Point of View” to distinguish it from regular reports. His perspective on the oilsands, whether viewers agree with it or not, is an analytical argument based on facts, and is perfectly valid commentary

the most important consideration for us is whether we are providing our audience with a varied and balanced perspective on an issue as important as oilsands development – and I believe we are. You may note that Mr. Murphy’s “Point of View” segment criticizing Neil Young was a response to a feature interview The National aired with Mr. Young two days earlier. 

In policy and practice we support the idea of transparency, not just for Rex Murphy but for all of our contributors. But implementing this is not always as simple as it sounds.

There are a set of complicating factors, ranging from how much we can legally demand of our freelancers, to privacy rights of our employees, to what constitutes “full disclosure”. Is it only paid speeches we should disclose? Or do we need to be concerned about journalists who attend charity events, or moderate a public forum? Does the content of a speech matter, or does the mere act of getting in front of a lectern make it a question of public concern? And finally, how do we share the disclosure so the audience can properly judge for themselves what’s appropriate?

All are good questions. In light of your concerns and those of others about Mr. Murphy, our senior editors are reviewing the way we deal with the issue to ensure we are appropriately transparent with our viewers. I expect that review will be completed in the next few weeks. When it is we’ll be sure to post it.

Peter Mansbridge is drawn into the debate

CBC reviews Rex Murphy oil conference speech but ignored when Peter Mansbridge did hisDean Skoreyko

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CBC editor-in-chief Jennifer McGuire has created an unintentional problem for the CBC after bending to the anti-oil sands lobbyists complaining about Rex Murphy’s oil conference speech (see here) – a can of worms immediately comes to mind.

First, McGuire has fully opened-up the media’s dirty little secret of journalists hiding their lucrative speaking gigs and potential conflicts of interests and secondly, how the CBC didn’t have an issue when their Chief Correspondent and The National anchor did the exact same thing.

 

Peter Mansbridge Was Paid By Oil and Gas Lobby For SpeechMichael Bolen

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) paid Mansbridge to speak at its Investment Symposium in December 2012 and a photo of him giving the address on how “energy has moved to the forefront of news: economic, environment, safety” was posted to the group’s Facebook page.

CBC spokesperson Chuck Thompson confirmed to HuffPost Canada that Mansbridge received permission from the public broadcaster to speak at the CAPP event and clears all his speaking engagements with the senior news team.

“Peter is encouraged by management to speak on a regular basis, it’s part of an outreach initiative in place for many of our hosts that ensures CBC News and in this case our Chief Correspondent is talking to Canadians in communities across the country,” Thompson said in an email.

“The content of those speeches is always about putting CBC News coverage into context and explaining what we do and how we do it but Peter never offers up his opinion or takes a position on anything that’s in the news.”

Oilsands Group Confirms Paying Peter MansbridgeJesse Brown, Canadaland

The Oil Sands is perhaps Canada’s most controversial and divisive news topic, with competing interests constantly vying for positive media exposure and public sympathy. As the CBC’s Chief Correspondent and anchor of their flagship national news broadcast, Mansbridge exerts undeniable influence over what Oil Sands stories The National covers and how it covers them. The fact that he has been moonlighting for the energy industry  is a clear (and undisclosed) conflict-of-interest.

Speaking of Speeches…Peter Mansbridge

I give about 20 speeches a year. … Many of the appearances, about half on average, I do with no fee involved. They are charities or journalism schools. The rest are handled by my speech agency, the same one that handles requests for many other journalists in this country and in the United States. In those casesa fee is negotiated between the agency and the group who want me to appear at their function. In some of those cases I donate part of the fee to a local charity; in some others I donate all the fee. And in still others I keep my share of what the agency has negotiated.

I don’t offer my opinion on matters of public policy or on certain divisive issues that often dominate the news. … I make it clear to all those who ask me to speak, whether it’s for a charity or not, that I will stick to what I know best – journalism.

Ever since I first started giving speeches, back in the mid-1980s and at the corporation’s request, senior management has approved who I speak to and are aware when I receive a fee and when I do not. Bottom line – I follow the rules and the policies the CBC has instituted governing journalists making public appearances.

I am a journalist and a public broadcaster but that doesn’t mean I’m not entitled to activities in my private life.

Peter Mansbridge receives speaking fees from oil industry group, CBC As It Happens

The CBC’s Chief Correspondent Peter Mansbridge has received payment for speaking at an event organized by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). Questions about possible conflict of interest and ethics were raised when CBC President Hubert Lacroix took questions yesterday from the Senate Communications committee in Ottawa.

We requested interviews with Peter Mansbridge and Rex Murphy today. They weren’t available for an interview. Neither was CBC’s editor-in-chief Jennifer McGuire.

Debating the ethics of journalists & paid speaking engagements, CBC The Current

We did ask CBC’s General manager and Editor in chief, Jennifer McGuire, to participate in this conversation. Ms. McGuire declined, and no one else from CBC management was made available. Ms. McGuire said CBC is now reviewing its policies and she would be happy to comment once that process is complete.

 You’ve Still Got Some Explaining to Do Mr. MansbridgeAndrew Mitrovica

 Mansbridge, like Murphy, continues to duck the issue at the heart of this growing controversy: disclosure.

Full disclosure means precisely that — providingall the relevant details, and not just to pesky journalists but to the audience as well, so they can judge and decide for themselves whether the fact that a journalist accepts money to speak from outside interests affects his or her reporting and editorial decisions.

I think Mansbridge and Murphy owe their audience and the profession full disclosure, without reservation, of how much they have made and who has paid them to speak.

CBCecrets: Mansbridge’s Oil Pay Makes the NewsJesse Brown – Download the podcast episode

Who broke the news that Peter Mansbridge has been paid by the oil industry? How did the story break through from social media to online press to the mainstream media? Who has dared to cover it at the CBC? Why is this such a fucking big deal? Why won’t CBC News talk to CBC Radio? Should journalists stop doing paid speaking entirely?

CBC’s Ombudsman releases her review of the situation

Review findings re Conflict of InterestEsther Enkin, CBC Ombudsman

The corporate policy provides a number of guidelines. The first is: No conflict should exist or appear to exist between the private interests of CBC/Radio-Canada employees and their official duties.

Whether there is a real or only an apparent conflict of interest, in matters of journalistic integrity it amounts to the same thing.

When journalists get paid to speak to powerful advocacy groups, it is hard to argue that this does not lead to a perception of conflict of interest. … CBC management must decide and be very clear about how that perception of conflict will be dealt with. … disclosure will go some way to mitigate the concern about this issue.

…since taking money leads to a perception of a conflict of interest, CBC management might want to consider, in the review they are undertaking, whether even with disclosure, it is appropriate for CBC news and current affairs staff to get paid for their speaking engagements. … At the least, management should think about the appearance of getting paid by interest groups who are likely to feature prominently in the news, or who are involved in public policy debates.

Given that Journalistic Standards and Practices spells out a commitment to independence, and the Conflict of Interest guidelines encompass perception of conflict as well, it is inconsistent with policy when CBC news and current affairs staff accept payment from groups that are likely to be in the news. To summarize, in the course of reviewing its policy, I hope CBC management will reconsider the practice of paid speaking engagements for its journalists and, at a minimum, consider how any relevant activity and payment can be on the public record.

CBC Policy on Conflict of Interest and Journalists, CBC

To preserve that independence, all employees involved in the creation of content that is subject to Journalistic Standards andPractices must carefully consider what organizations they are publicly associated with.

CBC Should Banish Paid SpeechesFrank Koller

…most importantly, there is public perception. You can’t have it both ways: tell allegedly anodyne political tales from the head table to oil executives who have paid you to speak on a Saturday night and then, appear credible to a national television audience on a Monday night while introducing an exposé about some oil industry environmental/financial transgression.

Here’s the fundamental question: exactly how would allowing CBC journalists to speak for a fee to an outside organization like CAPP, a lobby group, seem like a decision that wouldincrease Canadians’ confidence that CBC reports the news impartially?

Stay Tuned

This story isn’t over. Now all eyes are on CBC management and their promised review of policy. Stay tuned.