By: Dorothy Giobbe
THE NEWSPAPER ASSOCIATION of America’s public relations department now has a policy of monitoring telephone calls between reporters and NAA employees below the vice-presidential level.
The NAA maintains that the policy is nothing new and has always been in place. According to Paul Luthringer, director of public relations for the NAA, all media inquiries are sent through the NAA public relations department. A member of the PR department then arranges a conference call between the reporter and the desired source.
Many large newspapers follow the same procedure, routinely routing calls through a central PR office. But the NAA policy is unique in that it goes one step further ? after the conference call is put through, the PR staffer stays on the line to monitor the conversation between reporter and source.
Is it ironic that the NAA, which lobbies government for the uninhibited flow of information, has set conditions on the manner in which its own messages will be sent to the public?
Luthringer doesn’t think so.
The policy, he said, “is to ensure that the NAA and its administrative body are speaking with one voice.
“I don’t know if that’s been the case in the past, but this represents a new regime at the NAA,” he added.
Asked if the policy is an attempt to monitor the information coming out of the NAA, Luthringer answered, “Doesn’t every association monitor the information that comes out? It’s no different than any other organization.”
Nick Cannistraro, senior vice president of marketing for the NAA, said that it is “sensible for our side to at least know what the press is asking about our association and our industry.”
He also takes issue with the term “monitor,” said Cannistraro.
“Monitor implies control, and I wouldn’t put that connotation there. It’s important for the internal communications group to be aware of what’s happening.”