News organisation uses the services of Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR
Thursday, August 20th, 2015
British news agency Central European News has launched legal action against BuzzFeed alleging unfair competition and libel.
The well-established news organisation has called in New York-based attorney Harry Wise to lead its case against BuzzFeed, claiming the online giant deliberately set out to damage its business.
The move comes after BuzzFeed published a 5000 word article which described CEN as “one of the Western media’s primary sources of tantalising and attention-grabbing stories”, but went on to insist its stories were “often inaccurate or downright false”.
Now Harry Wise, an accomplished litigator specialising in international business disputes, has written to BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti demanding a full retraction and formal apology.
Wise says the BuzzFeed article (see image an link) about a competitor was a violation of the Lanham Act, which banned publishing material which “misrepresents the nature of another person’s goods, services or commercial activities”.
His letter also said the article (see image and link) was libellous, and cited numerous flaws in the BuzzFeed report for which he demanded a retraction, apology and compensation.
CEN’s CEO Michael Leidig, pictured, said that when he had been first contacted by BuzzFeed they had pretended that they wanted to write a feature on CEN’s “laudable investigative journalism”. However when the final BuzzFeed report was published, it made no mention of the agency’s public interest journalism.
Meanwhile a parliamentary question about the affair was tabled in the Austrian Parliament and government officials who are investigating are expected to reply next month.
The Parliamentary question pointed out that CEN’s investigations unit had offered a story about bribery and corruption involving Microsoft to BuzzFeed’s investigations editor, Heidi Blake, in the UK.
Only later was it revealed that Microsoft was a major BuzzFeed advertiser and that it had been manipulating content on its own site which was critical of the software giant.
A short time later BuzzFeed set out to destroy the agency’s reputation.
Leidig added: “I wrote to BuzzFeed’s newly-appointed editor Janine Gibson more than a month ago offering to settle this without any money needing to change hands, if they removed the article and apologised.
“At that stage it might still have been possible to rescue certain investments and undo the damage. This olive branch was ignored and as BuzzFeed is not regulated by any independent body, the only alternative was to take legal action.”
Note to Editors
Buzz Bottom Feeders – How BuzzFeed tried to destroy a rival business, is available on Amazon in both electronic and print form here:
The book has also been presented as evidence with the Parliamentary question, and is therefore a matter of public record not liable to any legal action. The Austrian Parliamentary Question can be viewed here:
Scott Douglas is the co-founder of the multi award-winning Holyrood Partnership, renowned public relations agency in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As well as providing expert PR services in Scotland and the UK, the former journalist heads a team which offers a host of other professional media services.
Those include crisis management PR, photography for business PR, affordable business video, social media campaigns and strategic content planning and delivery for businesses of all sizes.
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