Leave it to a bulldog, investigative journalist from the U.K. named Chris Atkins to tell us what we already knew: the quality of mainstream journalism is in decline.
Recently, in an attempt to show how lackadaisical the British media has become, Atkins created three completely fake products. He then placed himself in the role of a product publicist, pitched the press and, voila, the hits started coming faster than one can say Meet the Beatles.
I like seeing the media being taken down a notch or two, especially when it’s done by one of their own. I’ve attended far too many PRSA and PR Week panels in which pompous, self-congratulatory ‘journos’ complain about the unprofessionalism of PR people. And, I’ve cringed whenever some highfalutin editor ‘outs’ publicists who bug him with one too many pitches.
If nothing else, the Atkins piece shows how easily duped the Fourth Estate can be. They, like us, are human. But, journalists never, ever forgive public relations professionals for our mistakes. So, should we cut them some slack for these transgressions? I’d be interested in hearing your POV.
No question that the Fourth Estate has become both vulnerable and craven. At the same time, hasn’t the PR industry sometimes but rarely used that to its advantage?
Here’s an interesting take from a former FT reporter who went to work at Edelman:
The Atkins’ piece is a valuable contribution, Bomberpete. It reinforces how vulnerable the Fourth Estate has become thanks to a combination of downsizing, the need to feed the insatiable appetite of a 24×7 news cycle and, perhaps, a less gifted class of incoming journalists. It’s also another reminder that we should never, ever assume everything the media reports is, in fact, accurate. Journalism’s slide neatly coincides with the rise in power of influencers and trusted sources.
There have been more than a few journalists whom I’ve wanted to take to the woodshed over the years, starting with that nssty POS Michael Wolff and working my way down.
Still, this is pretty limiting. Yes, it’s always nice to see your tormentors get their just desserts. But aren’t these little “gotchas” are just a little too much schaudenfreude after awhile?
Instead of finger-pointing, can’t we all just focus on doing our jobs better?
Final question: do I sound too much like Rodney King?