Is Journalism dying? And is PR going with it…?

We all have heard the “talk” going around that journalism is struggling. Being in the j-school, we constantly are brainstorming new business models to keep the industry alive. Is online taking over print? These are the questions we are repeatedly asked on a daily basis. But where does PR fit into this equation?

Blogger, Jennifer Matton, analyzes this issue in her post Journalism is Dead? Matton hesitantly questions this underlying issue of journalism dying. Does that mean we actually have to do our job as PR professionals? Times are evolving and the simple press release strategy just isn’t going to cut it. Matton questions the need for more strategy, more value and more communication.

She compares PR to a theory that I found very interesting. “Everyone can communicate, they just can’t do it well.” This is why PR will never die. Matton says getting rid of PR is like saying the airline business is no longer a service because people can get around on their own. If that happens, we can only get so far. With respect to PR, people only know how to communicate to a certain extent.

Whether the economy realizes it or not, everyone could use PR to strengthen their relationships with key stakeholders. But isn’t building relationships as easy as making friends? Or so I thought…

So much more goes in to the making of a successful PR practitioner: research, goals, strategies, tactics and the list goes on. We, as professionals, need to master these skills in order to keep our industry from going under.

Now, back to the question at hand. I can only give my opinion on the last half, being a student graduating with a public relations degree. Every business could improve its relationships with their stakeholders and every individual can strive to constantly form new connections and contacts. With this, how can PR ever die when the idea of relationships is so crucial to our society today?

I would like to know what other people in the PR industry think about this. How is it evolving? Can we say that it is going under when the need for PR is so prominent?

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6 Responses to Is Journalism dying? And is PR going with it…?

  1. ecain says:

    Everyday we hear that the print media is coming closer and closer to extinction. However I do not think that, that includes all of journalism. People will never lose the need for news; they will always want to know what is going on in the world. Because newspapers have become “yesterday’s news” I think that they will meet their maker sometime in the future, but I think that online news sites are just getting started. PR practitioners are supposed to be versatile and up to date with all the new forms of communication. As long PR professionals continue to evolve with journalism and the new ways people are receiving their news, PR will never die.

  2. bgansar says:

    I love the point that everyone can communicate, just not well. This is the most true statement, that most people never realize. If you have ever worked in a setting where you have to edit other people’s work, for instance the CEO’s newsletter or the head of staff’s newsblasts, you know that people just cannot communicate clearly or concisely. This is why even the presdident has people who write his speeches for him. Not everyone has the communication skills that we have developed and strived for. So no, we will not go down with the rest of them, we have more than them because we do more than write, we talk, we help other people, we bring something more to the table.

  3. sclarke says:

    ecain – I agree with you when you say newspapers will meet their maker sometime in the future. Even though online is overtaking print these days, it does not mean print won’t come around. With this said, how can journalism die when the online world is so prevalent these days? We will always need news whether it is online or print.

    bgansar – I liked the example you used with the president. Growing up, I always wondered why they couldn’t write their own speeches or why they chose not to. I completely understand now. Getting the message out to our audience takes a professional with qualified communication skills. This also applies to my internship when people in other departments would send their drafts to the communications department to edit their proofs.

  4. cgharai says:

    In reference to the ‘online world’ taking over print, I believe only a certain fraction of the j-industry potentially can be obtained, but not all. Newspapers and other print publications will always linger. According to the Economist, newspapers/ print industry is not dying. According to the article “Circulation has been falling in America, western Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand for decades (elsewhere, sales are rising).” As long as publication owners change with social change, then the print industry will always stick around. It has remained pretty much intact even though many readers have shunned, or lack of the better word, backed away from paper media.

  5. ncano says:

    Although we are told that newspapers are dying, but everything is going online, I hardly think newspapers are going to just disappear like a magic trick. When I was one of the first students to be taking the Journalism Business class, I realized that people were making it bigger than what it really is. News is going online, but because a certain population (the older generation) is still use to reading the newspaper every day, I hardly doubt they will disappear. We’ve seen that cities and even states, have gone down to one newspaper and that I’ve personally seen at The Arizona Republic people getting laid-off, but that doesn’t mean they will disappear. Instead, current generations spend so much time online that it makes sense to just upload content online. It’s quicker and faster. There won’t always be a generation (no offense) that has grown up on newspapers, because even the older generations are learning to get their news online. It’s just practical.

    I feel like PR is different. You’re right in the sense that every company does need PR practitioner to strengthen their relationships. Plus the thing that is changing our jobs is social media. It’s adding to it and letting us grow, not making our jobs suffer. The thing that may change is that someone may be hired to just run social media, or now the PR practitioner will now handle that to expand relationships and develop them. I think in that sense PR is evolving, but not dying.

  6. sclarke says:

    cgharai – You bring up a good point. As long as publication owners evolve with the changing economy AND business tools then they will always stick around. Times are changing and so is journalism but it will never die with that said.

    ncano – I agree with you on people making it bigger then it really is. My business class is the same way. Constantly talking about new business models to keep the industry alive. However, that seems extreme doesn’t it? Sometimes maybe we confuse people being laid off (as you said with The Republic) to the industry dying. We may have less money for employees but journalism will always remain a big part of our society. People always want news and that will never change.

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