Friday, October 17, 2008

The new world of news

Everyone is a publisher now.

The State newspaper found that out today -- apparently somewhat to its surprise -- when South Carolina's health and environmental regulatory agency posted two interviews its officials recently had with two State reporters, both summaries and audio (although some of the audio is missing because of "bad batteries").

The Department of Health and Environmental Control apparently feared a major series on its operations was coming out this weekend -- last word I had was that it wasn't -- and so took the first shot.

While the agency might have been hoping to get the drop on the newspaper, this isn't exactly burning issue stuff, so I can't see a whole lot of people rushing to read it. It's pretty policy wonk. But it does give the DHEC PR staff, which is one of the most responsive in the state but also has shown itself able, when needed, to craft a luscious nonanswer to a question in a moment's notice, a place to point if any deep questions do come up. Read the Web site, they can say.

It's a strategy being used by more PR shops these days. Welcome to the new world of news where everyone is a publisher. What I told the reporter who called -- expect to see more of this. Nothing you do is a secret anymore. Now, reputations won't be made on control of information but on whether you provide the best, most nuanced and contextual information out there.

Are we ready for that, or do we keep doing commodity news?

Now, you know what the paper should do it if wants to show it can play in this new sandbox? Link right back to the DHEC post. It shows its readers it has no fear of its reporters' work, and it's the digital age way of saying "bring it on."

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At 10/18/08, 10:01 AM, Blogger Chris said...

You are correct in noting that this is becoming more common. I wrote about the ethical implications in the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication's Media Ethics Division's newsletter on page 3.

It's happened to the NY Times and The Washington Post, in which government agencies spun stories that had not yet been published.
The short posting includes details of those cases, and a case study that would work in mass comm ethics classes.

My concern is that it will lead to even less trust between journalists and government agencies/other sources.

As Dana Priest said she told an Army PIO: “Do you think I'm going to be willing next time to give you [the
Army] that much time to respond, if you're going to turn around and tell my competitors?”

At 10/18/08, 5:04 PM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

Good stuff. Appreciate that link.

At 10/19/08, 10:14 AM, Anonymous Parantar said...

great article!


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