Editors eat PR-laden humble pie

March 16, 2009

Interesting article in today’s media Guardian regarding the swathing cuts in regional journalism across the UK in recent months from Jon Slattery. And one by-product is currently the influx of editorial staff applying for PR positions in an attempt to stay in gainful employment amidst massive regional newsroom cutbacks.

The true state of British journalism is worrying indeed – those of us working in the media have known this for far longer than the recession-filled, fear-laden six months in which the Public has become fully aware of the current economic situation. The PR landscape has also changed, although not as drastically as the regional newsrooms.

The stream-lining of newsroom across the regions has appalled many of us, largely due to the very nature of the ways in which management and number-crunchers have dispatched editorial staff.

The excellent Guardian article from Slattery points out that there has been an influx of journos looking to organisations such as Councils for in-house work, and a significant drift to PR agencies by journalists and editors who would never have considered anything other than being committed Hacks for the rest of their writing careers this time last year. The PR Agencies are actually in a position of seeing more editors, news editors and senior reporters knocking on their doors for recruitment purposes.

Will this increase the quality of PR across the UK, or lead to a de-valuing of journalism, as more and more PRs submit editorial and images which needs less and less input from the newsrooms to make it onto the pages? After all, in the absence of a fully-fledged newsroom staff count, most editors rely heavily (too heavily, many would argue) on the submissions from PR Agencies to maintain their editorial deadline schedules. A tricky dilemma indeed.

The relationship between PRs and the Press is changing – and the results will be interesting for both parties.

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