Maybe it is a foretaste of a media-slimmed future, but the County News Center website in San Diego certainly upsets the competing North County Times. "Government PR surges amid media cuts," is the headline on the paper's lengthy story dissecting the county's spiffy news-site, the well-mounted home of a non-stop stream of digitally mounted press releases.
"If we see a further diminishment of independent sources of news and become too reliant on corporate-fed or government-fed news," the paper in its ire quotes California Common Cause, "then voters and the public lose the ability to really be able to understand the issues that are at hand."
We don't know anything about the County News Center's traffic trends, but we doubt the San Diego area public confuses the site for a real news site — informative, yes, but not real news. Still, it does seem to be a portent of a future in which press releases, many of them written by former newspeople, will be directly jousting against news stories in digital mountings. "The site has a .com address, as opposed to .gov, and contains only subtle cues that it's a San Diego County government public-relations operation," the North County Times advises at the opening of its story, written, it seems, as much in sorrow as anger.
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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