The NYT reports that the ex-chief of HealthSouth (he claims unknowingly) paid for positive coverage:
Throughout the six-month trial that led to Richard Scrushy’s acquittal in the $2.7 billion fraud at HealthSouth Corp., a small, influential newspaper consistently printed articles sympathetic to the defense of the fired CEO.
Audry Lewis, the author of those stories in The Birmingham Times, the city’s oldest black-owned paper, now says she was secretly working on behalf of Scrushy, who she says paid her $11,000 through a public relations firm and typically read her articles before publication.
It’s just stunning that this kind of stuff keeps happening without any kind of ability for censure by industry bodies – both media and PR. I’m sure there are as many frustrated journalists as there are PRs who are sick of having their profession tarnished by this kind of behavior.