The heavily-promoted feature on Telstra CEO
Sol Trujillo by the Fin’s Pam Williams at the end of January has certainly got
up the telco’s nose.

“Sol
Trujillo is a can-do CEO in a hurry. But to what?,” is
how Williams sets the tone for her 5,800-plus word piece, titled “Sol Trader”.

“His career to date suggests a couple of
essential talents: Trujillo’s always known how to look after himself – and exactly when to go.”

Later in the piece she mentions that “Trujillo, who
declined numerous requests for an interview for this report, has been defensive
about the large number of former US
colleagues he has stacked into Telstra’s high-paid executive row.”

Telstra’s senior spokesman, Rod Bruem, has
hit back aggressively at Williams, not through the usual corporate reflex threat
of legal action, but rather by venting his displeasure through a blog on a new Telstra site set up to cut out the middleman – that
is, the media.

Crikey asked Bruem whether any legal action
was being considered. “Not that I’m aware of,” Bruem said, adding that the only
action Telstra was taking was its direct response through the blog and by
providing a list of errors and omissions to
anyone who asks for it.

Bruem’s jottings early in the item centred
on Williams’ rejected request for an interview with Trujillo.

The AFR obviously had a lot
riding on this cover story, evidenced by the mobile billboards seen scooting
around Sydney and Melbourne promoting the “Sol Survivor” piece.

Of course there’s nothing like
the fury of a journalist spurned, therefore it’s not surprising that after
months of research, the author gave us her worst. Pam clearly couldn’t find
anyone in the world with a kind word to say about our Sol.

Pam Williams was contacted by Crikey but declined
to comment but among the respondents to the blog was Dan Warne, a news editor
at ACP’s Australian Personal Computer magazine.

Rod, it’s absurd to imply that
Pam and the AFR would be so juvenile as to write a damaging 5,000 word piece on
Sol simply because its request for an interview was rejected. Individuals may
have those sorts of feelings, but cover stories with expensive marketing
support are not commissioned and written based on personal whims.

Meanwhile, Trujillo has
decided to give an interview to The Bulletin’s business editor Alan
Deans who ran it in Q&A format.

It goes to show that time heals all wounds.
Last year when Katrina Nicholas from the same magazine put the boot into Trujillo, Crikey was all over the story.

Based on that, it shouldn’t be long before
the Fin gets to chat to Sol again.

Peter Fray

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