April 07, 2010

More on HP Phils. and the Stratworks issue

WE are re-posting a press statement from CyberPress:

April 4, 2010

CyberPress Official Statement

The IT Journalists Association of the Philippines (CyberPress) is issuing this statement to clear the issues regarding an incident involving our board officer Melvin Calimag and co-founder and former member Red Samar.

On March 1, 2010, Mr. Calimag wrote a story on the resignation of Ms. Bernadette Nacario, HP Philippines country manager for Personal Systems Group (PSG). The company branded the story as false although it did confirm on the following day that Ms. Nacario has indeed resigned. The CyberPress firmly believes that the story is true and correct in its totality.

Calimag, a long-time IT contributor of the InfoTech section of the Manila Bulletin, was told to stop writing for the paper. Samar, on the other hand, was the editor of the same section for 14 years, was stripped of his editorial responsibilities.

We don’t question the management prerogative of Manila Bulletin. However, the drastic turn of events was a direct result of a questionable action done by HP Philippines and its local PR agency, STRATWORKS, which communicated directly with Manila Bulletin Executive Vice President – Advertising Department Emil Yap in clear violation of journalism and PR protocol and ethics.

HP Philippines executive Bernadette Nacario and STRATWORKS PR manager Harold Geronimo said Mr. Yap asked them that a “letter of clarification” be sent to him immediately. But, even if it was Mr. Yap who initiated the communication, it was patently inappropriate for them to directly engage with Mr. Yap without involving the people on the ground – the editor and the reporter.

They sent the letter to Mr. Yap, who also serves as the paper’s executive vice president for advertising, when the matter was clearly editorial in nature. They did not contact the reporter and editor until two weeks later when Mr. Samar was asked by Mr. Yap to reply to the letter.

However, Mr. Calimag, as the writer of the story and the one directly involved in the issue, has not received any communication from either HP or STRATWORKS.

In any dispute regarding factual errors, the accepted proper course of action would have been a letter to the editor or a libel suit. What HP Philippines and STRATWORKS did set a very dangerous precedent in the journalism profession. There was obviously an attempt to influence the newspaper owner, suppress editorial integrity, and press freedom.

It is very unfortunate that this controversy has marred the good relationship of HP Philippines with CyberPress, which has been covering the company ever since its establishment in 1996.

Information Technology Journalists Association of the Philippines

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