Ron Fournier has a National Journal post that's depressing in terms of relations between the Obama Administration and some members, apparently, of the Washington press corps. Fournier sees a trend to inject PR "minders" into reporters' interviews with policy makers. The idea is to keep the officials authoritative (okay, "on message") and dissuade them from providing off-the-cuff information. Sad that Fournier is upset but, we'd say from afar, "minders" are nothing new.
PR people often sit in on interviews with their bosses; that's part of their job. They can be helpful in checking facts or catching a harried official going astray. What's depressing about Fournier's post is that he's upset about a longstanding practice. Are reporters losing their mettle to this peevish extent?
If you don't like the information you're receiving, we always felt, go out and dig for more. News gathering is as strategic an activity as governing itself. Reporters may be becoming too harried to head elsewhere for information. If that's the case, it's worth being concerned about, but don't blame such frustrations on PR aides. That's the way official systems work at the "entry level."
(This post is prompted by personal experience both as a PR manager and as a journalist. - db)
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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