Postings from the Edge

Global PR, new PR, social media and printing ink

Friday, 18 January 2008

The subject of objectivity

Objectivity and its implications for ethics in the PR and journalism communities is an issue at the moment and has been neatly covered by Peter Brill at Net.Mentor.

Ethics seems to be one of the new battlegrounds in the media industry. While PR and journalism have always had a love hate relationship, it seems to me that things have been worsened by the advent of social media. It was easier when you were defined by which side of the publishing fence you were on, although as Peter describes there has always been that grey area in trade/business to business publications.

But now, PR professionals and journalists are meant to be all things to all men and also have to compete with all men when it comes to breaking news, spreading news and having an opinion about. It's difficult to feel sure about yourself when the basis for your existence starts dissolving. The results?

All in all it could be pretty depressing - I for one have a foot in all these camps and I know others as well. After years of knowing what to do and how to do it, its hard to be confronted every other week with a new idea you have to take a position on. But, you know what? I think it is pretty exciting. We are on a moving escalator and no amount of whinging or complaining or disagreeing is going to stop the escalator. (Although sometimes it is difficult to see whether it's going up or down).

I'm not depressed because I try and look for the wood and not the trees. I have a sneaking sympathy for all sides. So until things change again I'll carry a newspaper because it is still the ultimate format for readability and portability, I'll keep a tag on my industries through trade mags and the growing number of web sites that complement them, I'll post on forums, receive messages on email subscription lists, follow my friends on Facebook, keep tabs on my professional life through LinkedIn, read opinions on blogs fed to my RSS reader and use Twitter and Jaiku because I might need to know about them in the future.

Despite their differences, most people in these various camps, despite what their detractors say and what they say about others, are not looking for what's best, but what works. That can only be positive.


Heather Yaxley said...


Good reflection on what's going on at present and I agree with you that we have to take a positive perspective on the developments regardless of our professional slant.

What the technology really offers all communicators a chance to focus more on other people within the process. So less talking at and more talking with. That has to be a good thing for anyone who seriously wants to use the communication platform to do more than pontificate.

I also think we'll see the technologies develop away from their current uses. Wouldn't a Facebook or LinkedIn approach within an organisation be so much better than a static contact list via Outlook. You could really start to build effective internal networks, share knowledge and operate more efficiently.

The YouTube approach would be so much better than over-produced corporate videos, etc, etc.

pbrill said...

Like you, I think it's about a positive attitude. Cup half full or half empty. Sure,there's information overload (toxic communication in PR education speak) but like anything else in the world it's about being selective, choosing your friends carefully and getting to grips with what's useful and what's not. Editors, subs and journos do it all the time and I'm beginning to realise that bloggers would, in some cases, totally outperform most news subs.