PR people, journalists, bloggers: How they stack up in high-mindedness and credibility

As a PR guy (I mean communications professional) who only recently left journalism, I was interested to read my former colleague Jeffrey Simpson’s take on the difference between the two jobs. It’s contained in his Saturday column about Brian Mulroney (paid subscription required). He writes:

“Mr. Lavoie, fondly remembered as talented journalist some years ago, since leaving that occasionally high-minded but usually underpaid occupation, has devoted his considerable talents to the seldom high-minded but often overpaid business of advising various companies and individuals on their public relations, notably Mr. Mulroney for whom he once worked in office.”

Later in the day, I came across a blog post from Mitch Joel of Twist Image with the intriguing title Bloggers Pass Journalists On The Credibility Barometer – Mark This Day. He relates his recent experience with an unnamed Marketing publication. When he asked the editors to write about an award won by his agency, he received an e-mail back telling him that if he expected coverage, he should subscribe to the publication:

“We have an overload of information to publish every week, so we have to give priority to our paying subscribers. If we are important enough to promote you, we should be important enough for you to count you in as subscribers.”

As a former journalist, I find this morally offensive. There’s a fine line between writing stories about subscribers and writing stories for brown envelopes full of cash. My concerns as a PR guy are more selfish. In a pay for play world, the importance of our craft gets diluted.

Joel goes further: He says the days of blogging without authenticity are dead, but suggests the opposite is true in journalism.

So journalists are more high-mined than PR people, but bloggers are more authentic than journalists. I’ve done all three jobs. I’ve loved all three jobs. I respect people in all three jobs, and disrespect others in all three jobs. Is that high-minded enough?

mcarthur (at) veritascanada.com

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