Excerpt from NASW Newsletter


The 'Report on Accuracy and The Associated Press' contained an August 1979, story in the NASW Newsletter with the headline: "AP Syndicate Blakeslee Cancer Series, But Is Mum On His Cancer Society Affiliation." Here are some excerpts from the article written by Mark Bloom:


"Associated Press Newsfeatures has sold a 10-part series on the fight against cancer to 230 newspapers without revealing to them that the author, Alton Blakeslee, is a paid consultant to the American Cancer Society.

"This was done against the express wishes of Blakeslee and the ACS. Both protested in vain against the omission of Blakeslee's association with ACS. Moreover, APN did not point out to newspapers buying the articles that they were edited into a series by APN from an internal document originally prepared by Blakeslee for ACS on the state of the cancer war.

"Neither Blakeslee nor the ACS received any money from APN nor from the sale to the papers. Blakeslee was offered a fee from APN to edit the ACS document into a 10-part series, but he declined to edit it or take any money, claiming he had already been paid once for the documents by ACS.

"When Blakeslee and the ACS saw the promotional material for the series sent to newspapers by APN, both protested immediately to Dan Perkes, assistant general manager of the Associated Press, and chief of APN, against the omission of Blakeslee's connection with the ACS.

"'When I forwarded Al's copy to you it contained identifying language which established his connection with the American Cancer Society,"' Charles Dahle, press relations director of the ACS wrote to Perkes. "'This is missing on the proof sheets that I saw. I feel that Al's role with ACS should be made clear if only for the reason that if it isn't both ACS and AP could be criticized for not revealing this information . . .'

"Blakeslee also objected to the APN promotion that said he was 'brought out of retirement' by APN to do the series. 'That's just not true,' says Blakeslee, who retired last year as AP scienc editor. 'I wasn't called out of retirement, and I didn't do the series for APN.'

"Perkes was asked whether he feels it was ethical, in view of the politicized state of cancer today to sell the series to newspapers without informing them the source of the information was the ACS, and without reporting that the author was more than former science editor of the AP -- but a paid consultant to ACS as well.

"'I don't understand what you mean by politicized,' Perkes reponds. 'The National Cancer Institute and the ACS are the two main forces in the country doing something about cancer. The series came out pretty much the way we wanted. I find nothing political in it.'

"Perkes concludes that he doesn't understand how leaving Blakeslee's ACS association out can be construed as unethical, though he acknowledges he would include the affiliation of the chairman of the Democratic National Committee if he did an article on politics for APN. 'That would be different,' he says."