Charisma magazine runs paid for ‘news release’ under by-line of ‘news service’ owner

Nice catch by Ruth Graham (@publicroad) and Warren Throckmorton (Patheos).

A  guy in Australia named Lyall Mercer wrote a pr mentioning his firm which was put up on Christian News Service (a pr site).

For pete’s sake. Pr is pr.

Charisma magazine picks it up with a few words changed,  putting another byline on it.

Lyall Mercer of Mercer PR paid to have his advertisment  put up at Christian News Service under the title: Driscoll Controversy Highlights Need for Churches to Develop PR Strategies to Protect from Christians

It shows up at Charisma magazine under the title: Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy Shows an Enemy Within

The Charisma piece changed three things:

Christian News Service copy:

Mr. Mercer is an Australian who spent six years living in the USA before returning to Australia to establish Mercer PR. He still deals with clients in the USA and advises high profile churches and ministries as well as corporate clients.

…“Churches and ministries are insulated, and they try to respond to external publicity with internal solutions crafted by people within their church or another church,” he explained.

Charisma Magazine:

Mercer is an Australian who spent six years living in the U.S. before returning to Australia to establish Mercer PR. He still deals with clients in the U.S. and advises high-profile churches and ministries as well as corporate clients.

…”Churches and ministries are insulated, and they try to respond to external publicity with internal solutions crafted by people within their church or another church,” he says.

Mercer paid CNS to put up his pr  which comes across as a puff piece on Driscoll and Mars Hill, but essentially it’s an advertisement for his firms services. Looking at the price structure of Christian News Service, I’d guess Mercer paid $75.00 US minimum.

So why is Charisma magazine running it as a  news article written by Russ Jones of Christian News Service – who  gets a byline for changing 3 words of a piece from one of his clients?

Russ Jones is Christian News Service:

Russ Jones

Did Russ Jones get paid again by Charisma?
Did Charisma pay to run the pr by Mr. Mercer?

Russ Jones clearly states the following to Warren Throckmorton:

This was a PAID news release by Australian-based Mercer PR sent out at 9:30am CST. The owners name is Lyall Mercer.

Jones states that this was  by Mercer PR. (I haven’t got the stomach to call it a news release, it’s an advertisement). He clearly says ‘by’, inferring Mercer wrote his piece, and clearly stating someone paid to have it put up on Jones service.

Since Mercer runs his own pr firm, why didn’t he just skip  middleman Jones and solicit Charisma magazine himself? I’ll attempt to be generous and go past calling this piece paid advertising and say at best it’s an opinion piece. And I’ll entertain the possiblity Mercer PR paid Christian News Service to have it ‘distributed.’

Either way, Charisma magazine doesn’t do much for it’s shaky credibility.

Final question, did Mars Hill pay Mr. Mercer of Mercer PR to distribute his opinion?

Update: Charisma magazine has changed the by-line:

charisma byline

Update: Mr. Mercers pr/advert/puff piece, “Driscoll Controversy Highlights Need for Churches to Develop PR Strategies to Protect from Christians” has disappeared from Christian News Service. Poof.
Update: It is back with an Admin by-line. Charisma deleted all the comments under the Mercer pr.

About Bene Diction

Have courage for the great sorrows, And patience for the small ones. And when you have laboriously accomplished your tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.
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3 Responses to Charisma magazine runs paid for ‘news release’ under by-line of ‘news service’ owner

  1. Bene Diction says:

    In the space of a few hours, Mercer PR paid Christian News Service to put up their pr/opinion/puff piece. Then…

    a) Charisma posts it with the byline Bill Roberts
    b) Charisma changes the byline to Russ Jones
    c) Charisma changes the byline to Charisma News Staff

    Next?

    Does Russ Jones of Christian News Service work in some capacity for Charisma magazine?

    No matter what byline is on that sucker, it’s definitely not a news piece.

  2. Rick Hiebert says:

    Not with the “an enemy within” in the headline, that’s for sure. *shudder*

  3. Mark Byron says:

    It wouldn’t be the first time a news outlet did cut-and-paste with a press release and passing it off as a news article. I recall my local paper did that with a liberal Catholic group’s event, taking the press release all-but-verbatim and doing some minor tweaks to localize it. However, I don’t think there was money exchanged in that one, just likely some lazy local journalism.

    Charisma is more of a cheerleader for their movement and not a particularly objective source. Many of the major players in that milieu run big ads in Charisma for their next conference or webinar, so there’s the natural bias of erring on the side of their advertisers. However, that story sounds rather fishy even by that standard.

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