Americans and the press always seem to have a love-hate relationship.
Despite much of the anti-media rhetoric at play within the national dialogue, a fairly good chunk of Americans (72 percent) trust the information they receive from national news organizations, according to the Pew Research Center.
The good news is more Americans are engaged. That means more eyeballs on traditional media, and social, too. In fact, Pew also reported in a recent survey that two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) say they get at least some of their news from social media.
As media experts, we know that human conflict is what makes news. And in today’s highly competitive 24/7-news environment, getting the proverbial scoop is going to be good for both the journalist and their respective outlets.
So, when Hurricane Harvey rolled around, it’s no surprise that millions watched live coverage of the category three-storm barrel through the Gulf Coast. Homes being destroyed and acts of heroism provided much needed drama that kept viewers engaged.
It’s hard to say how far a journalist will go to get a good story. Many correspondents are often confronted with ethical dilemmas of interfering with their own reporting.
Veteran journalist Will Bunch touched upon this topic in a recent op-ed, The Day the ‘Enemies of the American People’ Helped Save America. The Philadelphia Daily News reporter wrote about those media who helped rescue victims of Hurricane Harvey, while responding to repeated criticism of the press.
The fact is media are people, too. They have friends and families and experience life’s challenges just like everyone else.
One former journalist and current staffer says it best, “These days a lot of media outlets are attempting to emote and connect in a provocative way to perpetuate an echo chamber,” said Evan Pondel, president of PondelWilkinson.”
No doubt the media landscape has changed dramatically. News outlets now cater to liked-minded audiences, fueling the country’s already tumultuous divide.
Be that as it may, media are an essential part of documenting the pubic narrative. And yes, they don’t always get the story right. They’re human. But editors and fact checkers help ensure story accuracy. Let’s also not forget the journalist’s creed, a personal affirmation of ethical standards and to “believe that the public journal is a public trust.”
Our jobs as public relations experts rely on our relationships with the press on behalf of our clients. We understand the difficulties and the pressures that go along with good reporting. We also like to think we add value to their jobs as well.
While it’s easy to complain about the press, just think about what America would be without it.
– George Medici, firstname.lastname@example.org