Friday, July 27, 2007

US Presswire - A Conflict of Interest

Early on, Bob was a wedding photographer who shot for the NFL on Sundays, and through his work on basketball, ended up at Sports Illustrated. I too did, and on occasion, still do, do weddings. Previously I wrote about wanting to ask Bob, a highly respected long-time Sports Illustrated photographer about US Presswire, and how he was tied to it being that his brother, Ed Rosato, is listed everywhere as the point person. I couldn't find a story which showed Bob as having any relationship. Well, I wasn't looking very hard, because an astute reader sent to me http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/results.jsp?domain=USPRESSWIRE.COM which shows:

Registrant:
Rosato, Bob
ATTN: USPRESSWIRE.COM
c/o Network Solutions
P.O. Box 447
Herndon, VA. 20172-0447
Ok, that's pretty clear then, who owns USPresswire,I thought. When I said to Bob, "so, you're the President", he stopped me, saying "I never said I was the President. I am a background consultant to the company." I said "Bob, your US Presswire contract specifically states on it, on the signature page 'Bob Rosato, President'. That makes you the President. Bob responded "Is my signature on that?" "No, Bob", I said. but it is your contract. So, Network Solutions says you're the registrant of USPreswire.com, your contracts say you're the President, so, what are you?" To which Bob responded "President is a title. I don't respond to titles or anything. I've never said I was the President." I then said, "USPresswire is an LLC, which means that you had to fill out paperwork listing who held various titles, what title does Ed (Bob's brother) hold?" Bob responded, "Ed - his title is - Pick one. Pick a title. This is not a multi-million dollar company, so you can pick any title you want. I'm not sure I understand the significance of your question." I responded "I am trying to determine who holds what position at your LLC. And Bob responded "I am not an out front person for the company. There isn't a soul anywhere who doesn't know that I am involved in the company. There seems to be an agenda to steer this in a particular direction. I don't have to tell you, or anyone else, about the inner workings of the company." No, actually, it has been suggested to me that you, Bob, have gone to certain lengths to distance yourself from the company, or keep people from being aware that you're involved. I was trying to determine where things really were, and what became clear was that you remain trying to keep people from knowing where you stand, so, I can only go by contracts that you say your lawyers drew up that list "Bob Rosato, President" on them, and registration paperwork at Network Solutions that lists you as the registrant, and thus, owner, of USPresswire.com.

How then, is is possible that Sports Illustrated's SI.com website can have so many of these photos? For Bob Rosato to be the owner of a company that is selling images to his own employer seems, to me, atleast, to be a conflict of interest. Sources close to AOL/Time Warner report that Bob did go before a review board, and he was given a go ahead from them. What is not known is to what extent that review board asked for documents that detailed the degree to which he was involved in the company. I can only surmise that they were thorough and thoughtful in their approach.

I continued, asking Bob about this - "Do you see your owning USPW, and USPW making calls to SI.com to solicit play/sales for USPW as a conflict of interest?" to which he responded "No." When I asked him if he'd ever called SI.com himself, as some have alluded to him doing, he said "I never have, and will not. That doesn't mean that there aren't people in the company that don't, but I do not, nor will not." When I pressed the point, saying that surely people would know that it was a "Rosato" company calling, and that people on the recieving end of a sales call would know this, and apply "self pressure" to do something that they percieve would make Bob happy, Bob responded "Why would you envision that?" Ok, fair enough. It's not in plain type, but it does stand to reason, and I said that I still saw that "self pressure" would be a deciding factor. Bob said "You can call it whatever you want. I don't go out and visit clients, I don't do that. I'm not in a position at SI - I am a photographer at SI - I don't influence business or decision making."
US Presswire - Introduction
US Presswire - A Conflict of Interest
US Presswire - Friends Don't Screw Friends
US Presswire - Contract Analysis
US Presswire - The Client's Perspective
US Presswire - The Freelancers Perspective
US Presswire - Closing Thoughts

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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned -- just because someone is a contact on a domain name has no relevance into any ownership or even employment by the company.

Anonymous said...

Give me a break....everyone in the industry knows Bob is the owner/president/whatever of this ill-conceived venture. Everyone knows. Which makes him dodging Harrington's questions look really shady. What an idiot.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how the other SI photogs feel about Bob at this point?.....I for one, would be pretty upset with him if his "side-business" were endangering my job security. Surely there is a bit of resentment there.

What is his motivation? He has one of the coolest jobs in the world - a job on a very exclusive staff with outstanding pay and prestige, and yet he probably has to spend 22 hours out of his day dealing with this thing. My boss would probably take exception to that, thinking that it might effect the quality of my work at my real job - but I guess they make exceptions when you're running an enterprise that stands to aid their bottom line, ironically screwing yourself out of a job at some point.

Anonymous said...

A quick update: It seems that US Presswire has updated their WHOIS registration. The contact is no longer Bob, but "Manager, IT"

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