Friday, January 9, 2015

Meanwhile, Back At The Trough

The steps of Peter Mansbridge and Rex Murphy, I imagine, have a bit of a spring today, content in the knowledge that they are no longer outliers in the land of journalistic conflicts of interest. There's a new kid on the block (or, perhaps more appropriately, at the trough).

The Toronto Star reports that Global News anchor Leslie Roberts has been caught in a multitude of egregious conflicts of interests, promoting on air and in his tweets the interests of clients of BuzzPR, the public relations firm he owns with a partner:

Here is but one example of that the newspaper has uncovered:
Toronto lawyer Sandra Zisckind of Diamond and Diamond has often been a Global guest, sitting at the anchor table with newsman Roberts with both her name and the name of her law firm in a bold caption on the television screen as she comments on legal issues. The spots, connected to the news of the day (a high profile arrest or liability issues related to something in the news) run for about three minutes — a boon for any company trying to build a business. What Roberts said he has never revealed, to viewers or to Global, is that he is “creative director” and part owner of BuzzPR, which provided Diamond and Diamond lawyers with media training and helped them get featured on Global news.
His defense of such practices is weak:
Roberts said he never directly accepted payment from a client to be a guest on his show. However, he acknowledged that each business client pays BuzzPR to get media exposure on Global and other networks.

The list of Roberts' moral and ethical compromises is lengthy, and the clients mentioned in the Star article have either enjoyed on-air interviews with 'their man', been treated to 'shout-outs' by him, or enjoyed his twitter acknowledgments.

Predictably, Roberts says that he has done nothing wrong; it is an assertion that offers everyone a rare and unflattering look into the soul of an on-air personality.

Personally, what I see repulses me.

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