I’m not just calling Trine Tsouderos a pharma PR agent because of her series of articles filled with pharmaceutical industry talking points. The former cupcake correspondent is now the healthcare media director at the PR firm GolinHarris, whose healthcare clients include Merck’s HPV vaccine as well as GlaxoSmithKline. In principle, she may be changing careers, but in practice she’s doing what she has done for more than three years – pandering to the pharmaceutical industry. She’s just gone from a de facto PR agent for pharma to a de jure PR agent for pharma. Not surprisingly, GolinHarris milked her joining the agency – mentioning the award Chicago Tribune bought with CDC’s help back in 2010.
According to her new boss:
“Trine’s experience as a journalist will immediately benefit our clients and our teams,”
The hiring of Tsouderos comes one year after Michael Lev, Associate Managing Editor for Business at the Chicago Tribune, gave a panel discussion for the Public Relations Society of America. The title of the event was “Strengthening Relationships with the Media.” The panel discussion took place at the offices of GolinHarris, Tsouderos’ new employer, where Michael Lev was helping blur the lines between journalism and public relations.
A journalist teaching PR firms how to strengthen their relations with media is a journalist who has completely sold out his profession. That is exactly what Michael Lev has done and what Trine Tsouderos is now doing. Ironically, Tsouderos’ husband Jon Yates remains employed by the Chicago Tribune as the newspaper’s self-help guru, authoring his widely read “What’s your problem?” column for the newspaper’s business section, edited by none other than Michael Lev.
Lev’s effusive praise of Tsouderos’ husband included calling him a “‘Man of Steel’ when it comes to tracking down people who have wronged one of his readers.”
In 2008, the year before Trine Tsouderos began attacking doctors who practice alternative treatments for autism, exploiting a divorce between autism parents and portraying Age of Autism editors Kim Stagliano and Kent Heckenlively as reckless parents for helping their children, Michael Lev was on a six-member panel judging for the Gerald Loeb Awards – a prestigious contest run by UCLA’s Anderson School of Business to honor the best in finance and business journalism. Sitting with Lev on the panel was Amy Wallace, who wrote a cover story for Wired Magazine the following year praising millionaire vaccine industrialist Paul Offit. A finalist in the contest was the Chicago Tribune's very own Patricia Callahan, who would later be Tsouderos' partner in their hit-piece journalism. All three of the reporters Tsouderos collaborated with to do her smearing – Timothy Jones, Steve Mills and Patricia Callahan – have worked with Michael Lev on previous stories.
Even worse, Trine Tsouderos is now employed at GolinHarris, the very PR firm where Michael Lev lectured one year prior on how PR firms can strengthen media relations. I guess that’s the second career Trine Tsouderos can thank Lev for.
Not everyone was pleased with Tsouderos’ departure, however, especially the vaccine industry’s media marionette Seth Mnookin, who lamented on Twitter:
@ChicagoScience [Trine Tsouderos] leaving Trib for PR. truly one of the most fearless reporters I've met. Horrible loss.
She is fearless all right - fearless about selling her journalistic integrity for a lucrative career as a PR agent for pharma. Then again, that’s what she’s been for more than three years. Only now Tsouderos has the potential to strengthen pharma’s PR relationships with all media, not just the Trib. I’m surprised Seth Mnookin is not celebrating. It seems only yesterday Trine Tsouderos, Amy Wallace and Seth Mnookin were all at AutismOne 2009 plotting their respective attacks. Are Seth Mnookin or Amy Wallace next on the PR hiring list?
Jake Crosby has Asperger Syndrome and is a contributing editor to Age of Autism. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy. He currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is studying for an MPH in epidemiology.