Hello, this is Mediadisk. To change your contact details, press fingers to temples, shut eyes and concentrate hard

Bringgg! It is the telephone. My mobile, in fact. (Mental note: must change that default ringtone to something more pleasant.)

“Hello? Is that Charles Arthur?”
It is.
“Are you still technology editor of The Independent?”

I’m so stunned by the question that I have to count back to work out how long ago it was I left. “No, not for the past 18 months. Who says I am?”

Equally stunned silence from the other end. “Oh – it says here you are. This is one of the newer versions of Mediadisk we’ve got it off. Nice to know what we’re paying for,” she says, in an accusing tone clearly aimed at the CD-ROM in front of her, which surely is even now cowering in its case.

“Who does it say edits the technology section of the Guardian?” I ask, intrigued. Unfortunately she can’t answer this question. Possibly she’s already torn the MediaDisk CD-ROM limb from digital limb in her teeth.

Gotta love those guys. Possibly they sent me a piece of paper (paper – I ask you) to correct my details a while back. I’ve honestly no idea – in our house, paper rapidly gets collected into piles which unless they’re cheques, contracts or say FINAL DEMAND are then either (a) turned over and used for drawing or (b) skimmed and binned.

Poor MediaDisk. They try, but keeping track of journalists by expecting them to fill out bits of paper is about as effective as a pedal-powered tractor.


  1. Odd. On our copy it has you down as tech editor at the Guardian – and that’s been correct (apparently) at least since Feb 2006 – the ‘last updated’ date. It does also have you down as a freelance for the Guardian… but no mention of the Independent.

    Mediadisk does ship in online and Windows client modes – if they haven’t updated the central database on their server, it could still be using old data, to be fair to the Romeike folk.

  2. Actually a pedal powered tractor is a pretty neat idea and would be quite useful in places.

  3. I’ve just returned from a holiday in Devon where my two-year-old son was highly impressed by the pedal-powered tractors at the farm by Abbotsbury Swannery.

    He couldn’t reach the pedals, and it was therefore a bit useless. But we’d both like to point out that pedal-powered tractors hold a great deal of potential for future holidays. Some of the older children were throwing them round the track at frightening speeds. It was cool.

  4. Actually the Pimms guide (online and hardcopy) still have you down as a “Freelance Technology Editor” for the Independent……

  5. Charles

    Monday 5 June 2006 at 2:40 pm

    That would make the Pimms guide wrong, then.. and since they don’t seem to expose themselves to Google (I can’t find it through any combination of “pimms PR journalist media guide contact planner”), they’re going to stay wrong. Ah, life.

  6. Just out of interest, how often do these media databases chase you up? And who’s nicest about it? Gorkana, being the new kid on the block, seem to be quite up to date. Is that because they make it easier for journalists to update them?

  7. If you did not respond to any requests from Romeike to update you details then how do you expect them know that you have changed roles. If they were to send you an email asking that you update your details would you have been more likely to respond ? I have checked and Romeike have literally 100,000’s of contacts on their database and hence need to rely heavily on Journalists providing up to date information when it is requested. As noted above, the Pimms guide also have your incorrect details, do I assume that you have not responded to them either.

  8. A question; I understand that this company makes money by effectively selling journalists details to what looks like PR agencies or similar. Therefore, is it not also beneficial for the journalist to provide his/her most up to date details? I would also hazzard a guess that it may be even more worthworth contacting this kind of resource prior to any changes going ahead… just an opinion…

  9. Charles

    Monday 4 September 2006 at 12:44 pm

    @Tim: I get lots of requests from lots of organisations asking me to tell them what I’m doing, what my forward features list is (we have no such thing), who works for me, what their numbers are, what I think of this and that…

    If I spent my time responding to them, I’d get little work done.

    @Don and @Tim: I don’t rely on Romeike. I get by perfectly well, I think, without them; particularly nowadays I’m really not reliant on them aiming people at me. It might be different if I were starting out on a trade paper, but on a national there’s really not much need for extra sources of PR. Quite the opposite.
    If Romeike were to offer an incentive for me to give my details, that would be different. It would make me a supplier, rather than what they want me to be – a turkey nominating which farm I want to be on at Christmas.

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