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PR, Journalism, and an undeniable future

The rise of technology has brought many changes to everyday life, especially in the workforce. Assembly line workers have been replaced with robots and more and more jobs, that were once a necessity, are becoming obsolete. This constant revision of the job market has been a trend throughout time. For example, in the early 1900s, the first cars started to replace traveling by horse and carriage. The carriage industry was huge at the time, but become nearly obsolete a few years after the introduction of the car. Were people upset that their industry was gone and they were losing their jobs? Most likely. Nevertheless, they survived and the world moved on in the name of progression.

In current times, the print news industry is suffering at the hand of digital and online news. Interestingly enough, for some reason, people cannot handle the gradual loss of print newspapers. Every day, small newspapers are falling prey to bigger news corporations, ruthlessly buying and merging what they can get their hands on. This has been going on for the better part of a decade. However, a more recent development in the industry is that media giants like the New York Times and Washington Post are feeling the pressure of their print publications failing. This is the part that people are having a hard time grasping. How could a paper as big and successful as the New York Times fail? In his post, “Last Call”, Clay Shirky stated, “Many people have lamented the unpredictability in the media environment occasioned by the arrival of digital devices and networks, but the slow implosion of newspapers has been widely and correctly predicted for some time now.” Shirky continues to point out that there is a false sentiment that the future of print remains unclear, whereas there is concrete evidence of failure in print’s future. I believe this sentiment comes from people’s inability to grasp that newspapers may very well become obsolete in the near future.

Another problem journalists are facing is the immediacy required to break a story. Along with the online/technical revolution came the invention of social media. Journalists have had to compete with regular citizens when an important event happens. More often than not, when a news story appears in print, millions of people have already seen the story content online in places like Facebook and Twitter, and therefore do not need to read the papers for information. In an article by The Economist, the death of Osama bin Laden was discussed in terms of its placement in the news. When talking about how journalists had to approach reporting on the story, Mark Jones, global communities editor at Reuters, stated, “Every aspect of that story was on Twitter.”

The future of PR, however, deviates greatly from the road print news is on. It is riding the wave of progression and is booming in the digital age. If journalism wants to survive, it will need to rely more heavily on PR professionals, according to Dr. Laura Toogood, a digital expert, and author. In an interview by Michael Lockhart of Environics Communications, she stated, “PR is starting to become just like a newsroom. I think they have a really important role to help support journalists. The message is to make sure that you give them unique information, unique stories, unique quotes – things that are well sourced. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the fact that journalism and PR are becoming more of a team. If anything, I think you are getting (potentially, in some cases) greater quality of output.”

              It will be interesting to see where the news industry goes after dealing with its obstacles. Another interesting thing to consider is how the power has shifted from journalists to public relations professionals, and how they can work so closely with one another, yet head down such different paths because of the same technological advancements.

Public Relations

Journalism

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