The MAC299 Social Media course blog

Week 8s2: We are all journalists now

Posted by mediations on March 26, 2010

OK, today let’s think carefully about the implications blogging and other social media have for journalism – particularly in the context of PR.

We will use the changing definition of ‘journalist’ to examine the challenges this presents to PR – so we will begin by watching some vox pop videos in which people answer the question, What is PR?

OK, what would you have said if someone approached you in the street and asked, “What is a journalist?” Write down your own definitions, and discuss.


Do you remember the plane that crashlanded on the Hudson River in New York last year?

Janis Krumms used Twitter to send out this photograph of an event that was clearly newsworthy, and travelled around the world in little more than a blink of an eye.

Was Janis a journalist? Probably not. But you have all seen Josh’s SR2 blog – is Josh a journalist? If so, when did he become a journalist? If not, what would he have to do to become a journalist?

For PR students, this is not merely an abstract question. Imagine you are working for Sunderland City Council, or a public body heavily involved in projects taking place in SR2’s patch. Imagine you are a business trying to launch in this area? Do you treat him as a journalist now?

What if he is being critical of your policy/ activities? How do you respond? What if he wants Press accreditation for an event?

What if you are asked to draw up a media list for a client wishing to launch a product or service? Thinking of bloggers in general, how would you select who is worth talking to? Who is worth actively engaging with? Traditionally, journalists are trained, and as part of this training they will sign up to a number of conventions, ranging from not revealing their sources to understanding the meanining of ‘off the record’, respecting embargoes and not normally mentioning pitches from PRs. It is easy to imagine a very effective blogger who has little or no knowledge never mind respect for these conventions. What are the implications? On the other hand, ‘traditional’ journalists can be cynical, world-weary and overworked. Why not pitch your client’s story to someone young, fresh – and possibly naive?

Imagine you work in urban regeneration and are involved ina project that would involve demolishing substabndard housing and replacing it with flats and a superstore. How would you engage with bloggers?

Perhaps you work for Night Owls, the new company launching nightwear for men (MAC163 veterans will explain to the rest of the class). Would you include bloggers in your media strategy?

I look forward to reading your comments on this post.


One Response to “Week 8s2: We are all journalists now”

  1. I believe PR is using communication to manage reputation and has a goal in mind. Journalism on the other hand is anyone covering anything that they believe is news worthy. There are so many different definitions for both PR and journalism that there really is no right answer. I believe people who blog are considered journalists and if they have a large following they should be allowed and/or invited to events because they can engage viewers rather then have one-way communication like radio, TV, and newspaper.

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