Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I Learn A Lesson In Journalism

I was a journalism major at NYU. And I had great professors there. But apparently, the best lessons are learned outside the classroom. Like the one I learned yesterday.

I was writing an article, on assignment. I needed to get comments from MySpace. MySpace blew me off. For over a week. As a result, although I had completed the rest of the article, my story was delayed. I should have stuck to the original deadline. But I kept giving the MySpace PR person (who is on my most hated list right now) more and more time, reasoning that it was worth it.

This was a mistake.

Because today, the Associated Press "scooped" me.

They beat me to the punch. Even though I was finished with this article over a week ago. Because I thought it was more important to get comment from MySpace than to get the article published quickly.

Ironically, the AP article says:
"MySpace, whose press representatives said executives were unavailable for interviews..."
I punched my computer. My hand hurts. Why was I strung along by this PR biatch?

My article should still run. I hope it does. But I learned a lesson, which is... the AP has been spying on me. Also, there's a reason why so many stories say "so-and-so could not be reached for comment." Because PR people enjoy tooling reporters around.

I called the MySpace media line on Monday, May 8th. I called again on Wednesday. Finally, Thursday night, at around 9PM while I'm in the middle of a heated game of NBA Live, I get a call on my cell phone from the MySpace PR person. She was surprisingly hostile, I thought, considering the article's focus wasn't on "MySpace danger" like every other piece out there. I asked if she could get the MySpace founders to answer a few questions, or answer them herself. She was leaving the office though. I sent her some questions via email the next day. That's when the tragi-comedy began.

My email exchanges went like this:

Thank you in advance for helping me get some comments for the article.
I've pasted the questions below. As I mentioned earlier, if I could
get some responses by Monday [5/15] at 5 pm Pacific, that would be great.
I got no response.

The next day:

Just wanted to know if you've been able to get some comments for me on
the questions I sent you earlier. Or perhaps you can answer them?
Please let me know as soon as you can. I appreciate all your help.
Her response:
I'm out sick today :( can we do tomorrow?
The next day:

I hope you're feeling better. Please get back to me today if you can.
5 hours later:

Haven't heard back from you and just wanted to see if you'd had a
chance to look at the questions I sent. I realize things must be
pretty busy there, but if you could please get back to me today with
some answers/comments, I'd really appreciate it.
Thanks,
Her response:

I am in the office today and will try to get you something by the end of
the day today.

Many thanks for your patience.
4 Hours later:

She says:

Just to let you know we are working on these responses and have not
forgotten about your piece.

We'll send you something tomorrow for your use.

Many thanks, we appreciate your patience.
The next day:

I was hoping to receive some responses from you today. A couple brief
comments from you or the founders in response to the few questions I sent is all I need.... Thanks for your help, and I look forward to getting some feedback from you shortly.
Her response:

I'm on it, thanks for checking in. I'll send as soon as possible
The next day:

Please send those responses right away. If I can't get any responses
from you by the end of the business day Monday, we'll be forced to run
the story with "MySpace refused repeated requests to comment."
Her response:

You should have something by that time.
Well my friends, I didn't. I finally got the comments sent to me today, Tuesday, and they weren't even that great (they never are when they come from PR people). So I got beat by the AP.

Of course, the PR biatch has a MySpace page. Which I visited, just to see who I was dealing with. (I wonder if she did the same thing.) She doesn't look that much older than me. Why did she decide to screw over one of her peers? I don't know. But my birthday was this week, and this was not the present I thought I'd be getting.

Anyway, you live, you learn. Alanis Morrisette said that. She also said "You oughta know." And now I do, Alanis. Now I do.

1 comment:

Hot Mama said...

So I guess you won't be hearing from the My Space people again any time soon.

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