Governments around the world have put the brakes on ride-sharing service Uber, prompting the San Francisco-based start-up to play dirty. BuzzFeed revealed in 2014 the company considered digging up dirt on critics in the media, including journos writing on sexual assaults by Uber drivers. Yesterday, writer Michael Theis at the Austin Business Journal revealed:
“A lobbyist for Uber Technologies Inc. has filed an open records request to obtain more than a year’s worth of my emails and text messages sent to city of Austin elected leaders and staff.
“Uber’s Austin-based lobbyist Adam Goldman, CEO of Congress Avenue firm The Goldman Group, filed a public information request with the city of Austin on April 22 seeking the emails and texts that I sent to City Council members, their policy aides, staff in the Austin Transportation Department, and the city attorney’s office for a period stretching from Jan. 1, 2015 to April 22, 2016.”
Few people would have found Theis story in the local rag were it not for a pick-up this morning by The Huffington Post. That’s interesting in itself because HuffPo founder and hands-on editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington announced this week she was joining the Uber board. The site was quick to point out the newsroom firewall; Huffington had “recused” herself from any coverage of Uber, she said in a blog post, and an independent editor had been appointed to handle any related stories.
HuffPo even had a labour reporter investigate the potential for conflict in the newsroom, quoting one media ethicist saying it’s “definitely a concern” and another saying “I wouldn’t have done it [joining the board] if I were her”. The Washington Post also reports on one story pitch on a dodgy Uber driver apparently spiked by editors at HuffPo — as recently as April 6 — due a joint campaign planned with Uber on drowsy driving.