I received an enquiry from Gina Spencer of the Source Sleuth website. Their client, Yael Grauer. was looking for an Internet trolling expert. I can only assume that Yael Grauer was not looking for me as I dominate the search engine results for the term ‘Internet trolling expert!’
When Yael Grauer contacted me for an interview I sent her a link to my media relations policy. It seems from her response that she wanted information from me for no benefit on my part.
Hi, Jonathan. Your very extensive media policy sort of threw me off.1. I don’t always have any say over who is quoted or credited. While I send editors articles with quotes and credits, sometimes the posts aren’t published for reasons outside of my control.2. If I interview multiple experts and some give me better quotes or more useful information than others, I’ll quote the ones with the best information–regardless of their level or experience or whether or not a source feels used. My only loyalty is to my readers…and to the person who signs my paycheck, which is my editor, not a source.3. I can’t only contact you if an editorial decision on proposed inclusion has been made because, like I said, sometimes my articles are held hostage by editors for reasons outside of my control. This doesn’t always happen, but I can’t ever make any promises.4. In general as a professional journalist, I don’t sign agreements with sources where we agree to the nature and tone of the article, though I think my work speaks for itself.5. I am really confused after sorting through your terms and conditions, as it makes it seem like you really really don’t actually want to be interviewed, or have a problem with the media in general. And yet you emailed me saying you’d be interested in this interview.If you could let me know up front whether you are interested or not, given that I can’t make any promises about circumstances outside of my control, that’d be great. I’d love to interview you but if you are so distrustful of the media and take issue with me this, I’m happy to find another source who will speak to me without so many disclaimers and conditions.Best,Yael
I explained to Yael Grauer that the reason for this policy was that in the past people had contacted me for lots of information and I go no benefit from it whatsoever. I don’t see why I should spend my time speaking to others when I am neither quoted or interviewed. People can read my research if they want information, but I do not have enough time to do my research as it is, let along helping others with theirs!
This was Yael Grauer’s response:
While I certainly wasn’t planning on interviewing you without quoting you, which would be a waste of my time, I’m going to go with one of your competitors that doesn’t have a ridiculously long media policy that treats me like the enemy, and recommend that all of my colleagues do the same.
Following this I told Yael Grauer that this says more about her value system than it does about mine. There are people more well known than me, and who are as busy in their lives as me, that have policies like these. Tim Berners Lee is one such example – it was him I got the idea from, following a number of media outlets taking my knowledge, and then me getting nothing in return.
Yael Grauer seems to lack the professionalism I am used receiving to from journalists. I have journalists and former newspaper editors working for me, including from The Crocels Press Limited, which is a news corporation I’m a director of. What was Yael Grauer expecting me to do – give her something for nothing. When I responded to her, saying I was going to write this blog, she added:
I regularly share information about sources with my colleagues that are worth their time, and they do the same for me. It helps me avoid exchanges such as this one that waste my time and make it more difficult to meet my deadlines. (Luckily, Gina has already found me additional sources for this piece.) I also share examples of what to do and not do in my PR for Startups workshops, so people can learn from the mistakes of others. 🙂I’d love to be featured on your blog for an example of how journalists can deal with getting trolled by sources… but I’ll have to write a 10-page media policy first. 🙂
It’s always frustrating when you think the perfect opportunity has fallen in your lap, and then it turns out to be something that’s not even close to what you expected.