A matter of trust
Posted March 29th, 2012 by debritz
It's not a great time to be a journalist, with job opportunities shrinking on a daily basis. But it certainly is an excellent time to be in PR. Why? Because the chances of your media release getting wide and uncritical coverage are expanding by the minute.
You don't have to dig too deep on the internet to find bloggers who merrily and uncritically repeat media releases, usually without even acknowledging the source.
Some bloggers even go so far as to pretend they did their own research -- or, at least, they allow their readers to think so -- when all they are doing is parroting the PR.
What's worse is that this kind of thing is finding its way into mainstream media sites, where the work of untrained bloggers is being published alongside that of journalists but without the checks applied to staff-written copy.
I'm not at all promoting a "closed shop" mentality. I believe everybody is entitled to their view, and I'm happy that the internet, especially the advent of social media, makes that possible.
However, I think the readers of professional media websites are entitled to know the credentials of the person whose work they are reading. And I think the editors of these sites need to be vigilant, because the expedience of using free copy from enthusiastic amateurs could blow up in their faces.
One thing that separates the professional media from the amateurs is the integrity of the product presented to the public. If what's published online doesn't meet the high standards applied to the print or broadcast media, the proprietors expose themselves to potential legal issues.
They also risk a loss of the public trust that is their competitive advantage.