I think "I am close with the person am reporting on" and "the person I am defending in this article has a PR person, and that person donates money to me on a regular basis" are kind of two different things, and the latter was kind of worth mentioning. That's payola.
She did mention it though. It was the Guardian that decided it wasn't relevant. not Jenn Frank.
Agreed, and they probably should be criticized. If a PR representative from Electronic Arts donated money to Jeff Gerstmann, and Jeff wrote an article denouncing people's anger with EA, that would be a pretty big conflict of interest.
But again, The Guardian deserves the blame here, and I'm sorry that Frank got caught up in all of this.