Saturday, October 3, 2015

Journalism: slowly losing its' sense of credibility

Christopher Miller

In this era, journalism has become increasingly digitalized. The prevalence of digital journalism has even created a new type of journalism called Public Relations, or PR as it is more commonly known in the industry. The Public Relations Society of America defines PR as, “A strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics (, 2015).” Despite its rather simplistic definition it is vital to realize the importance of PR. Good PR can save a company from disaster and bad PR can destroy an otherwise healthy organization. Simply put, PR can either “make you” or it can “break you.”
More often than not, PR is portrayed in a negative light. The reason for this is because there is a misconception that public relations is nothing more than a tool of marketing, thus limiting PR professionals’ roles to nothing more than problem solvers (, 2013). This misguided belief that people in PR are nothing more than “fixers” and “disturbance handlers” tarnishes their perception in the public eye and in some ways they are seen to be guilty by association.
Obviously the misconception surrounding the role of PR professional proves problematic in itself. However, there is an even bigger problem that is currently impacting the entire journalism industry. The problem I am referring to is the perception within society indicating that there is a sense of disconnect between the journalism industry and its core values of truth, honesty, objectivity and independence.

Our credibility as journalists is being challenged every day. Society is becoming increasingly skeptical of not only  journalism, but also news coverage in general, and rightfully so given that anyone with a computer or a smartphone  can post whatever they want whenever they want in this social media crazed world we live in today.
In a study conducted by Baylor University, published in Journal of Mass Media Ethics: Exploring Questions of Media Morality many of the 30 veteran senior PR professionals touched on the importance of credibility.
One participant said, “I can’t afford to lose my credibility … As PR professionals, it’s all we have. And if I lose my credibility here, it’s not like I can just go start over with someone else, somewhere else (, 2013)."
It seems as though the ideas of truth, credibility, and honesty are thought not to be a hot commodity within journalism and the corporate world.
Sadly, a research study commissioned by international PR firm, Edelman, in March 2006, confirmed that the public is not buying into the credibility factor of many different sources. In this study, the researchers asked respondent opinion leaders, “How credible do you feel each of the following sources is for information about a company?” The responses ranged anywhere from 12% credible to 68% credible in some cases. Regardless of how you look at it, these percentages are alarmingly low (, 2006).
There is no doubt that it is troubling to find the general opinion regarding PR professions as nothing more than a tool of marketing, which is limiting PR professionals’ roles to just problem solvers and  they are sometimes seen as “Yes Men” when pressured by their bosses.
At the same time though, the much bigger problem that must first be addressed is the overwhelming belief that those within the journalism profession lack the ability to be truthful, honest, objective, and independent, thus reducing our credibility as journalists and news organizations.
As we have said countless times in class and heard numerous others say in our readings credibility is at the heart of a journalist’s livelihood. He or she can be nothing without it. If you can’t be truthful and credible in your writing, reporting, and public relations, what is the point?
We cannot even begin to try to find a solution to the problems and misconceptions that are currently facing the public relations field. Only after we collectively as a profession, can find a way to regain the people’s trust and establish a firm sense of credibility within society can we begin to focus our efforts solely on public relations.

1 comment:

  1. This is Robert Vollman, and I have to agree with your article, the worlds users are becoming their own little journalist in this world, and it's something that really should be stopped. It'll take some time, but I can see happening one day.