The continuing case for cutting out the middlemen
The concluding point in my post was this:
 Most PRs and journalists add little value to truth-telling if they’re nothing more than channels or conduits who distort and manipulate the original message. Assuming, of course, that their roles are to do with truth-telling. If you want to get close to the truth, cut out the middlemen. Let the citizens make up their own minds as to what is truth.
That provocative comment was the catalyst for a discussion in the post that, at the last count, ran to 52 comments and trackbacks. It also prompted most conversation participants – David Tebbutt, Philip Young, Chris Edwards and Sherrilynne Starkie – to sound off on their own blogs, opening up further conversations there and in other blogs that linked to theirs. The post attracted the attention of David Miliband, Minister of Communities and Local Government in the UK and a member of the cabinet.
A terrific discussion that, while it looks like it’s run its course in my blog, certainly doesn’t indicate the end of different opinions about the concluding point I made.
Now, a new window has been opened onto the journalism/PR symbiosis point with a letter to the FT editor published in the paper on 29 April, with some rather interesting opinions relating to John Lloyd’s FT article.
The letter-writer – an ITN News reporter – has such an astonishingly-naive view about both PR and journalism that you have to wonder how on earth he has a job as a news reporter. (A cynical observer might say that perhaps he was in bad PR at some point in his career.)
 Journalists at least start from the premise that their role is to provide accurate information to their audience. PRs do not even start from this point. Rather they begin from the position that their role is to make their bosses (company, political party, whatever) look as good as possible.
I accept there are many PRs who want to make their bosses look good but are not prepared to go beyond the truth in order to do that. Not least they understand that their future credibility depends on not “lying”. But truth is not their primary goal. For most journalists truth is the primary target even if the pressures of sales and audience figures push some off course sometimes.
Best of all:
Journalists don’t need to understand PRs, it will simply damage our work.
With points of view like this, I rest my case on cutting out the middlemen. Especially some journalists.
Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology.