In breaking news, the New York State Joint Commission of Public Ethics (JCOPE, shown above in a meeting last November) has passed a bill which effectively requires public relations agencies to report as lobbyists if they try to influence editorial writers. The bill passed today by a 10-3 vote.
According to Crain’s New York Business today:
“Public-relations firms and free-speech advocates roundly condemned the proposal, saying it infringes on unfettered communication between citizens and the press.” “JCOPE wrote in its Jan. 19 update of its proposal that the change is "in no way intended to restrict a reporter's ability to gather information or to seek comment from representatives of advocacy groups as part of reporting the news."
"Rather, this is intended to generate transparency in the activities of paid media consultants who are hired to proactively advance their client's interests through the media."
PR agencies are concerned that they will now be defined in New York as lobbyists – and communications with the media will be tracked by the government. Numerous PR firms have declared they will not comply with the ruling and have vowed to challenge it in court, as they claim it “infringes on unfettered communication between citizens and the press.”