Much has been written about the fragmentation of the news media, and how it has diluted the political, societal and economic clout once weld by the major news organizations. Would the publication of the Pentagon Papers today have caused the same stir it caused 35 years ago? The answer is a resounding No! Frankly, a week doesn’t go by when The New York Times, Washington Post or CBS “60 Minutes” doesn’t report on some scandalous abuse of power. Yet, the stories don’t stick. The American public, which has been brainwashed to discount the credibility of journalists, could care less.
Yet, today’s “newsmakers” still wield the kind of clout PR practitioners crave to represent. From the President to P Diddy, those who command media attention can command and control the message in the mainstream media. Those who control access to the newsmakers also control the tenor of the resulting editorial product. You don’t play ball with us, we won’t play ball with you.
The media needs to step up to the plate. This seems like heresy coming from a career PR professional. It isn’t. Our profession is under siege — from the Armstrong Williams affair to video news releases produced for the FDA. If journalists adhered to the principles of journalism, PR folks wouldn’t have become the scapegoat that they have. Are there unscrupulous PR people out there. Yes. But, by and large, most are ethical and recognize the value of maintaining transparency.
Journalists: Do your jobs!