When [Kerri] Fivecoat-Campbell asked the board about what seemed to be a conflict of interest, she was told that the law firm hadn’t done work for National Geographic since the 80s, and so there was no conflict.
Fivecoat-Campbell argued that once there was a financial tie, there is always at least the perception of a conflict. That’s easy enough to understand. The firm might want to woo back business it lost, and could be perceived as thinking of its own interests, or those of a “former” client, rather than the interests of SPJ and its members, which include editors and writers, both staff and freelance, but not, to my knowledge, publishers.
However, there is another complication. Today I called the office of a lawyer, at Baker Hostetler, who is identified on the web site as having represented National Geographic. I heard from the office that the firm still does work for the society. That raises the very large question of whose interest the law firm was supporting, and the equally big issue of why SPJ leadership decided to throw in with National Geographic.
I’ve called SPJ and both the acting executive director and the president elect have referred me to the organization’s president, who is currently on vacation. (I’ll provide an update when I hear something.)
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Sherman's SPJ bombshell
Erik Sherman weighs in on Kerri's resignation and the SPJ National Geographic saga. Here's his bombshell: