Industry Lobbyist Is “Journalist” For Managing IP

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Patrick Ross, a former journalist who for the past three years was the executive director of the Copyright Alliance industry lobbying group in Washington, DC, has joined industry publication Managing IP as a reporter. Ross previously had a career as a Washington journalist, writing for Internet Daily. But traditionally, journalists who jump to the lobbying ranks bid their journalism careers farewell. During his time as head of the copyright industry group, Ross regularly took very strong editorial opinions (in favour of copyright, e.g., see here where he takes on academic Larry Lessig) on the issues he will now be covering. It remains unclear whether the Managing IP publication is considered a journalistic venture or an industry opinion and “how-to” sheet.

William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

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Comments

  1. says

    That’s an interesting logic: So once a lobbyist, always a lobbyist?
    The Copyright Alliance has only represented a few years in Patrick’s career and that should taint him for life? And because of that he should not be able to go back to journalism in a field that he masters quite well?
    So what do you make of those who are not journalists in the first place (sportsmen, politicians) who start pontificating on TV channels and elsewhere?
    And I also like the point that — according to you — one can only write unbiased stories about copyright issues if you acquiesce with Larry Lessig’s views…

  2. says

    That’s a good question! Things seem to be changing in the journalism world so one can appreciate your confusion. It used to be understood that if you joined one side or the other, you could not come back to journalism, as a professional journalist cannot be paid to take sides on the subject he is covering and be legitimate (in fact could not get a press pass). Perhaps the question should be targeted at whether Managing IP is journalism or no, rather than the writer. Patrick Ross had an excellent reputation as a journalist in Washington and is a good writer. But he surely knew what the significance of his move to lobbying would mean for his journalism career. I’m sure he’ll provide us with some very informed articles from DC, though most likely from a starting point that IP rights are always a good thing no matter what (which may or may not be true but is not a balanced view of the policy debates). I guess we’ll see!

    You seem confused between the pontificators and journalists. The former are commentators, giving colour and entertainment, not reporting.

    You of course twisted the point about Lessig – For a true journalist, there should be no assumption or opinion that Lessig is good or bad, just coverage of what he says, and what people like you say, and what the significance of those things is. That would be the point.

  3. says

    It’s a pity you didn’t contact anyone at Managing IP prior to publishing your article, as we would have been able to correct a number of mistakes and incorrect assumptions in it. It is normal practice for journalists to contact those about whom they are writing to put accusations to them directly, and I’m disappointed you didn’t bother to do this.

    I hope you don’t mind us providing a few clarifications.

    First, Patrick Ross is not a reporter for Managing IP. He is a freelance journalist based in Washington DC. We have been pleased to commission him to write a small number of articles for publication on managingip.com.

    Second, you say that Patrick formerly worked at the Copyright Alliance and that he “took very strong editorial opinions on the issues he will now be covering”. I’m surprised that you know exactly what issues Patrick will be covering for us as he is working on a freelance basis and is not responsible for “covering” any particular issues. Anything he contributes to Managing IP will be discussed on a case-by-case basis. As it happens, most of what he has written for us so far has been on matters entirely unrelated to his former role.

    At Managing IP, we use a mixture of staff reporters, freelancers and IP specialists to provide up-to-date, accurate and relevant analysis. Our contributors have diverse backgrounds, which we see as an asset. Working with an experienced freelance journalist in Washington DC enables us to cover important issues in a timely manner.

    Moreover, all articles published by Managing IP are edited before publication and our editors’ aim is to ensure that what we publish is fair, independent and unbiased. We certainly wouldn’t post anything as a news report or analysis that was obviously biased or one-sided and when we occasionally commission comment pieces these are clearly flagged as such. In that respect, Patrick’s contributions are no different to those of any other writer.

    James Nurton
    Managing editor, Managing IP

  4. says

    Mr. Nurton, thanks for the helpful explanation of editorial policy at Managing IP, we will be sure to contact you on any related stories in the future, though I would not agree that there were “mistakes” in our piece. I don’t think any outsider could be expected to differentiate between a staff reporter and a freelance reporter in your stories, unless the distinction is spelled out for them (and I’m also not sure about your use of “IP specialists”). I also find the distinction unconvincing as to the writer’s area of coverage. Isn’t it splitting hairs to say that the writer lobbied in one area of IP and now is writing about another area of IP? But maybe not. In an era when many top writers on IP and technology policy have left struggling news organisations and followed the money to industry or government posts they used to write about, I can certainly concur with the view that a good, experienced, independent writer in DC is a good thing. And organisations striving to be journalism such as yours must distinguish themselves from the blogs and opinion sites that steadily spew spin, and I think it sounds like you are trying to do that. So maybe we should now as you suggest look the other way and just trust when a writer reverses the trend. Goodness knows these days such writers are hard to find.

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