Update: Amazing what one picks up at the 10th anniversary of the English edition of Tempo’s 10th anniversary. Apparently, there’s more than meets the eye to the Krakatau Steel IPO case. The gossip is that not only journalists but very highly placed editors in some media were offered, and accepted, money. The report to the Press Council came about because some elements wanted more than what they were given. And some “opposition” party officials had made a killing because he was sold Krakatau shares at deep discounts, which he promptly unloaded when the price shot up after the IPO. Stupidly he used his own name in the share scripts. So expect more revelations in the media in the coming days. The question now for PR organizations seems to be what would they do if the PR company in the thick of the scandal had offered money to the journalists and their bosses? Where do they stand on that?

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The Krakatau Steel IPO case, in which a few reporters allegedly extorted the company with threats of unfavorable coverage if it did not give or allow them to buy its vastly undervalued shares, is now muddied with denials, accusations and cunter accusations.

What seems to have happened, if you try to reconstruct the incident from press reports, is that there was an attempt at extortion, and the case came to light when Henny Lestari of Kitacomm, the public relations firm handling the IPO complained of this to the Press Council (see here). Her allegation resulted in the Tempointeractive article of November 17 that kicked the hornet’s nest for the IDX journalists.

Many denials and many shrill threats have resulted since, primarily from the Stock Exchange Journalists Forum, who stand to lose all credibility if the allegations prove to be true. We may not know the exact truth for some time but the fact that several of the named journalists have been sacked or resigned from their media houses lends credibility to the allegations that an extortion took place.

That itself is not remarkable. What is remarkable is that a PR firm has taken it on itself to report the extortion by journalists. If true, this is a feat of courage that deserves to be applauded and supported by all the PR professional organizations and PR firms in this country.

This is because extorting journalists and Bodrex journalists (those who don’t really work for any respectable organizations but come to press events just to ask for money, threatening unfair “coverage” if demands are not met) are the bane NOT ONLY of all professional PR firms but of all professional journalists who are honest and refuse to take bribes as well.

So if Kitacomm did make the report then perhaps they deserve the support of all the organizations purporting to be representing the PR profession. So where is the support? These organizations cannot claim the excuse that they do not read the newspapers are are not savvy in mobilizing support or write a press release to this effect. So where are they when a member of their profession is now being attacked for seemingly doing the right thing?