Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Mack and Meyer Clash with Publisher Over "Journalistic Integrity"

It all started with a simple, innocent post about doctors prostituting themselves to pharmaceutical companies (see "Pimp My Doc!") and a little offhand remark therein about the fabled "separation of church and state" at medical journals. Specifically, I wondered how an editor could shrug off $750,000 in lost advertising revenue because of remarks she made out of publication. Imagine what would happen if she dared publish her remarks!

That lead to a piece by Christiane Truelove who, as a trade publication editor, says she tries to live by the dictum "Buy our Space, not our words" or something to that effect (see "Christiane Truelove of MedAdNews Says 'Buy Our Space, Not Our Words'").

That lead me to explore the whole church and state thing more closely in a follow-up post to my blog: "Trade Publications Must Be More than Drug Industry Cheerleaders!"

That's when the proverbial sh*t hit the willing fan!

In my post, I quoted World of DTC marketing author Rich Meyer, who had some unkind criticism of DTC Perspectives (an industry trade publication): "This trade magazine is such a joke that nobody in the industry really takes it seriously. It's news is shallow and outdated and, judging from the list of the top 25 marketers, its selection criteria is based more upon relationships within the industry than what anyone has actually done, or has not done."

But Rich didn't get angry email from Bob Ehrlich, the publisher of DTC Perspectives. I did!

I won't quote what Bob said, because it was a private email (Bob refuses to submit comments to my blog posts like everyone else who really wishes to engage in constructive dialogue). Suffice it to say he was mad, defensive, and said he will never read my blog again.

So much for my tough love approach of trying to offer constructive criticism and open a dialogue about how to improve the utility of trade publications to industry readers.

My mistake was suggesting to Bob that instead of shooting the messenger, he should contact Rich Meyer if he was that upset about the quote. And contact Meyer he did!

Meyer has chosen to quote some of what Ehrlich said in email to him in his post "Attack from industry trade publication," in which you will find some choice words.

Meyer thought Bob needed some TLC: "Wow someone obviously is drinking too much caffeine and is in dire need of some great sex to relieve the tension."

Let's step back from the juicy stuff for a minute and look at the issues.

#1: How to Have/Not Have Constructive Dialog/Dialogue with a Blogger
Don't write him/her personal email messages to get your point of view across. Coin of the realm in the Pharma Blogopshere is reader comments that everyone can see and respond to. That's the kind of dialog we want! Speaking of dialog, did anyone listen to my podcast "Blogs vs. DTC: What's Best for Consumers?" which featured Bob Ehrlich as a guest? It was all about him and his views, which I compliantly set him up to deliver. I guess that "offer of dialog" was nothing more than chopped liver!

#2: Don't Confuse Blogging with Journalism
In one email missive, Ehrlich said: "You and John Mack make a good pair- you attack with no thought that fairness is part of journalism, even opinion pieces." This is a wonderful example of a common misconception and I don't mean the misconception that Mack and Meyer make a good pair. Holding bloggers up to journalistic standards is oxymoronic! Blogging is everything that journalism is not and more so. What blogger wants to be "fair"? What does that mean, anyway? I guess I am not being fair here because I quoted Ehrlich "out of context." If I quoted the context then Ehrlich would come across even worse. Therefore, I am being more fair to his image than if I quoted his rant in its entirety! BTW, I started my blog primarily to present my biased view, which is, by definition, unfair! Live with it!

#3: Bloggers are Not Team Players!
It's funny that Ehrlich says me and Meyer make great team. I hadn't teamed up with Meyer until Ehrlich began his rants and raves against us and put us on the same team! Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog knows that us bloggers are often at each other's throats and don't hesitate to put one another down, sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes not so subtle. It's a dog eat dog eat black kitty world out there in the Pharma Blogosphere. But back to Meyer and Mack: We've decided to team up at least on one project: more on that later. Stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

Mr. Ehrlich sounds pretty pompous there. Who on earth would lose their temper over something they see in a blog...?

PharmaGuy said...

I am glad to see that Pharma Giles is back and actively contributing to the Pharma Blogosphere.

Regarding your comment, I would say the only time some one should lose their temper over something they see in a blog is when their character is personally attacked rather than their ideas.

For example, if a blogger says your are "in dire need of some great sex" or calls you a "turd," then I think you have a right to lose your temper.

But it's all about how you respond even when you do lose your temper. For example, I do not think it is right to engage in the same personal kinds of attacks to defend yourself as Mr. Ehrlich did.

But even in the worst cases, time and open communication channels heal all wounds and we should be able to move on.