Blog written by Brigitte Lyons

Crain’s Chicago Business has a reputation for sniffing out all the gory details of a story, but they got Trumped last week.

What happened? They accepted a news release without verifying its authenticity, because they received it from a fellow media outlet.

This may sound like a harsh assessment of a really funny situation, but if the shoe fits…

Although Crain’s couldn’t reach the media contact on the release, a simple flip to page 12 of the issue they were handed would instantly let the magazine know the release is a joke.

It’s possible I’m coming down hard on Crain’s, because of all the charges leveraged against PR people recently, but it’s worth repeating: News sources need to take responsibility for verifying their stories. It’s easy for them to blame PR people for spamming them, but I’d like to turn the lens around. Poor reporting happens. We love it when reporters use our news releases as the sole source for their story, because it puts our clients in the best light possible. But that’s bad journalism. And it’s not my fault – or my colleagues’ – when it happens. I have a job to do, and so do the reporters and editors that receive my materials and pitches. I hope I can make their jobs easier by doing mine well, but I can’t do the reporting for them.

Even so, this really is hilarious. And I love the fact that Crain’s wrote a follow-up story that manages to be tongue-in-cheek while maintaining their serious news style. Well played.