Blurring the Lines Between PR and Reporting

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plagiarismThis is about an astounding PR story. It’s not astounding because of the questionable ethics being attributed to Jan Hutchins, in his seemingly shameless pitch to provide complete stories to the media. It’s actually astounding that anybody should even be surprised by this offer – given how much copy/pasted journalism is already put into print, on a regular basis!

” I write the stories, you put your byline on them ”

Do journalists object to the tacit presumption (in this “pitch”) that they will copy/paste content in whole, rather than only in part from newswire and agency materials?

How many times, do we see large sections of copy, and even entire stories, reiterated in various media outlets online (verbatim!) before the public simply begins to presume that the mainstream media has largely become a re-distribution channel for more centralised sources of news and info?

In short, should anybody be surprised that a publicist could start to presume that some ‘journalists’/editors’ are just looking for prefab material to paste into their publications? Is the difference between a newswire story and a PR release really so different? What precisely is  the acceptable ratio of copied copy, to original content? More importantly, how much of that original content needs to be substantive information, rather than just some stylistic window-dressing or editorial slant, written as an aside to the main body of pre-fab information?

Which reminds me…What other REAL reasons are there for the ‘professional courtesy’ of providing copy that follows standard media styleguides – other than to enable the ease of a prevailing ‘copy/paste’ style of journalism?

I can understand how typos and bad writing are a deterrent to productive workflow, but can’t a writer/editor understand what something like 10%, or 10AM means (and apply it accordingly into their work), without crying foul on the grounds of some verbose and exclusionary styleguide (which has yet to show any ability in adapting to the realities of socialmedia, I might add)?

Nevermind…That’s another subject for another day.

For now, let’s not throw rocks too hard inside of the glass towers, and just say that clear and honest attribution of (safe) sources should be where we start most ethical debates around journalistic principals….One would think.

PR man’s ‘jaw-dropping’ offer to reporter: I write the stories, you put your byline on them | JIMROMENESKO.COM.



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