Sunday, September 8, 2013

Why Journalists and Public Relations Experts are "frenemies" and partners

Public Relations and Journalism: Corporate Partners

Obamacare and The War on Terror are two prime examples of Public Relation's partnership with journalism. Both phrases were consistently used as headlines and topics on news stories around America. PR created the phrases and helped create a perception of each issue, and journalists reinforced the image1 . The healthcare plan is actually an age old effort of senators like the late Ted Kennedy, who stated that he would devote his life to its passage (it was passed soon after his death in 2009)2.  Journalists picked up on the name, either in order to give credit for its passage to Obama or to attach a negative connotation to the bill. The War on Terror was called so in order to encourage public support of a war in the Middle East. When Jayson Blair caused a scandal at the New York Times, and when newspapers feel that people are not reading and enjoying what they read, they needed PR. This article demonstrated  that PR started working in conjunction with journalism, the importance of a partnership to PR and journalism, and that the future of newspapers rest on their partnership and yet independence from public relations.

In both instances it is important to see the thin line separating PR and journalism. It is the false pride of some practitioners in both areas that sometimes does not allow credit to be given to the other. PR can help journalism weather the tough economic climate. As an Advertising and Public Relations major and a journalism minor, I recognize how closely connected both areas are and how many of the skills are closely related. The story documented that PR began with former journalist Ivy Lee tipping reporters on a train wreck. With World War I "publicity agents" helped the government to educate American's on the war through press releases.

PR needs journalism, and journalism needs PR. People should not see them as competing industries, but as industries that both work to get information to large amounts of people at the same time. Due to PR's quick evolution online they have recently grown much faster than the newspaper industry has. However, that does not mean that journalism will not be able to recover. People are beginning to become interested in politics and world affairs and again, and that is due to the efforts of both industries.

Though I have stressed the partnership between the two, I also must stress that they still remain separate. Similar to how a married couple becomes one, yet still has separate ideas, dreams and identities. Journalism should not become a paid market simply to sell a framed story. They are to report the truth no matter what company or entity it may affect negatively. PR and newspapers should help each other survive without one overrunning the other. John Sullivan on Pro Publica noted that "the rise of the "publicity agent" created deep concern among the nation's leaders, who distrusted a middleman inserting itself and shaping messages between government and the public." People trust the newspaperman in some areas more and the pr agent is some areas more. The bottom line is that the truth should reign in the partnership between PR and journalism.


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