Media Relations Guru Jim Sinkinson Hates Free Speech (Updated)

We feel it is important for PR professionals to be aware—for the record—that the owner of the PR-centric media guide Bulldog Reporter is an odious free speech-hater and enemy of journalism. [Update: Letter from Sinkinson added below].

In case you missed the NYT story this weekend (read it!), allow us to highlight these facts for you: Jim Sinkinson, the publisher of Infocom Group and owner of Bulldog Reporter, which many of you PR people subscribe to in an effort to more effectively influence journalists, is currently leading a campaign to put The Berkeley Daily Planet, a liberal weekly, out of business, because he doesn't like the fact that they publish "letters and other commentary pieces critical of Israel."

"We think that [Daily Planet editor Becky] O'Malley is addicted to anti-Israel expression just as an alcoholic is to drinking," Jim Sinkinson, who has led the campaign to discourage advertisers, wrote in an e-mail message... "If she wants to serve and please the East Bay Jewish community, she would be safer avoiding the subject entirely."

Please, take a moment to reflect on the unapologetically gangster philosophy behind that quote. Reflect, also, on the fact that Sinkinson objects to the paper publishing submitted items that are not even part of the paper's own editorial output. In other words, this "media relations" mogul objects to free speech, and is an asshole of the first order. [Pic: Flickr]

UPDATE: Jim Sinkinson sent this email to me Monday evening:

Dear Hamilton,

I want to follow up on your accusations yesterday, which are long on hyperbole, name calling and accusations, but short on factual basis. I hope you'll publish this so your readers will have a better ability to judge the truth of your analysis.

First, as a publisher, I fervently support free speech and stand by the rights of all publishers to print whatever they wish. What I oppose vigorously, however, is hate speech—-anti-Semitism in this case. I also oppose the delegitimization and demonization of Israel and the application of a double standard against the Jewish state.

Please understand also that neither I nor any of the people opposing this editorially biased coverage have ever asked or demanded that the Planet not publish this type of material. What we have done is to make the Jewish community and local advertisers aware of the constant drumbeat of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric from the Planet's publisher, outside contributors and readers' letters, many of which frequently contain egregious factual errors. Our position with advertisers is this: The Daily Planet is not good for your business. No bullying, no threats. Advertisers are free to decide for themselves. Indeed, lacking the resources of the Planet, we are exercising freedom of speech in a humble way to inform our community of the facts.

Let me offer an analogy that may help further clarify our perspective: Assume your father runs a hardware store in a small town in Georgia, and the local paper prints racist commentary (op-eds and letters to the editor) vilifying African Americans. Would you not advise your father to withhold his advertising in support of those the paper regularly offends? Might you not advise your father that advertising in such a publication could hurt his business's reputation and have a negative effect on sales to the town's 25% population who are African American? That is the situation we have here, except it's the Jewish population in the East Bay and Israel who are being vilified.

I hope this elucidates our position. It's not a question of free speech, but rather a question of not sitting idly by while hate speech is permitted to flourish in our midst. If you'd like to see examples of the Daily Planet's constant stream of anti-Semitic, anti-Israel editorial content, it's posted here: http://dpwatchdog.com/1anti-semitism.html.

Jim Sinkinson

Publisher, Bulldog Reporter