College journalism is bidding to fill some of the void growing with the decline of newspapers as information sources, but is upset over PR roadblocks to its efforts. That can be gathered from a letter thirty-eight journalism groups, including leading collegiate bodies, have sent to President Obama to "end the restraint on communication in federal agencies."
A report in USA Today's "Voices from Campus" section on the students' letter quotes it citing "politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies" as a core concern. It complains that agencies' PR gatekeepers are becoming more entrenched, worsening a situation, in the view of the student journalists, that started with the past two presidential administrations.
Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, says, "It's nothing new for government agencies to try to focus the public on positive, upbeat stories and downplay their mistakes and shortcomings. That's an understood part of public relations. But public-relations offices are going way past 'spinning' the news and are affirmatively getting in the way of access to the news.'"
Can PR, indeed, be getting out of hand? That could become a heated question for all of us.
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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