For the most part, I’ve come to accept that the news media today often encourages style over substance so I won’t make a blanket statement that reporting just isn’t as good as it used to be. What is clear is that journalists’ news judgment certainly is different than it once was. What passes as news today can be quite complicating for those of us tasked with delivering messages through the news media.
Occasionally the media becomes infatuated with a story that simply isn’t that important. Usually the story begins as a legitimate news item, then morphs into something that appears bigger, thanks largely to media attention. Last year it was Tiger Woods. This year, and next year probably, I fear it will be the upcoming Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Among the first skills journalism students learn is how to identify what the public needs to know. Information the public needs is news, everything else is entertainment. So, the news purists among us need to brace for the onslaught of coverage that will monitor the every move of Prince William and the woman the British press has dubbed “Waity Katie.”
This, of course, makes our work with the news media more difficult. As media relations professionals, our credibility is tied directly to our news judgment and the ability to help the media do its job.
The ultimate challenge is, in the era of Tiger Woods sex scandals and royal weddings, where do we find an opening for legitimate news that not only forwards our cause in a credible and transparent fashion, but helps reporters do their jobs.
Those of us in media relations don’t have all the answers, but we’ve certainly identified the challenges. Good luck to us all.