Exploring institutional contests over control of Public Opinion

This week’s reading states that public relations professionals and news agencies, such as UK Press Association, play a vital part in gathering news stories. Due to pressure on journalists, as mentioned previously when defining ‘churnalism’, it means that journalists rely on pre-packaged news sources from PR specialists due to the overwhelming amount of news they must cover.  Herbert Gans (1979, p116) said that ‘more often than not, sources do the leading’.

 To some extent I agree with this statement as proven with statistics by Julia Hobsbawm that ‘80% of broadsheet outlet has PR element’. However I feel that this paints journalists in a bad light in a way that they do not find stories themselves and rely of public relations pre-packaged stories. As shown in ‘A compromised fourth estate?’, 72% of articles are written by named journalists, therefore showing that not all stories are automatically written using news sources from PR experts, but are more the starting point for many stories which journalists then use to create bigger articles.

However Oscar Gandy (1982) came up with the idea of an ‘Information Subsidy’ which is where public relations professionals offer news such as press releases, videos and reports to journalists. By working with this system it means that journalists get a story to write about, people receive news they are interested in and public relations professionals get the appropriate press out to the public.  I see this as being a benefit to both media communicators, especially after reading Michel Foucault’s theory (Long and Wall, p.364) on discourse and the ‘regimes of truth’.

Foucault states that it is ‘not how our language is structured, but how we use it’.

This could be applied to journalists’ use of press releases throughout their work as it implies that they get certain information from public relations specialists but they then use different language to get a new news idea across. Foucault’s notion of discourse also proves the way journalists utilse the language to make press reports relevant for their stories.

It a well-known fact that news in print is routinely recycled, and the source is rarely attributed. This is because there are too many stories for journalists to write independent stories, therefore my using press packages I agree that it benefits both types of specialisms.

 

References:

  • Allan, S (2004) Making News: Truth, ideology and Newswork
  • Foulcault, Michel (2012) Media Studies, text, production, context.
  • GANDY, OSCAR (1982) Beyond Agenda Setting: information subsidies and public policy, New York:Ablex.
  • GANS, HERBERT (1979) Deciding What’s News, New York: Pantheon.
  • Lewis, J, Williams, A & Franklin, B (2008) A Compromised Fourth Estate?
  • Long, P and Wall, T (2012) Media Studies Texts, Production and Context Chapter 10
  • WHITE, JON and HOBSBAWM, JULIA (2007) ‘‘Public Relations and Journalism: the unquiet relationship*a view from the United Kingdom’’, Journalism Practice 1(2), pp. 28392.
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