The Connecticut Law Tribune’s Tom Scheffey interviews me for his article today, ‘Duby-ous News’?, which follows up on a controversy I previously wrote about at Law.com’s Legal Blog Watch surrounding a PR consultant’s role in a law firm’s staged news program.
The half-hour program features two partners from Hartford’s Shipman & Goodwin being interviewed about a recent $12.4 million jury win in an eminent domain case against the town of Branford, Conn. Conducting the interview is the firm’s PR consultant, Duby McDowell, a former TV journalist. In the video, she is identified as “Duby McDowell, WFSB Political Analyst,” but never as a paid PR consultant for the lawyers being interviewed. Her “co-host” in interviewing the two lawyers, Tanya Meck, is identified as a former planning and zoning chair in West Hartford, without any mention that she, too, is a paid PR consultant.
In the comments to the Legal Blog Watch post, the firm wrote a response in which it says, among other points, “No reasonable person could have thought that the video was an WFSB news program.”
One footnote to all this: The CLT article quotes one person who questions the whole idea of a law firm creating a Web page and a video to explain a court victory. Given the controversy this victory created — it was an eminent domain case and taxpayers would have to foot the bill — I think the firm’s creation of an explanatory Web page was a good idea. I even think the video was a good idea. My one concern is that the video was produced in a manner that made it misleading, especially when the video was taken from the context of the Web page and broadcast over local cable-access stations. But the Web page was a good idea, from a PR point of view.