Deconstructing news

1 Mar

Tom Foremski makes a passionate plea for the press release (sic) to die. In place, he wishes the PR industry could adopt the principles of object-oriented programming by offering modular and reusable information for journalists to assemble into a news story. (To some extent, this technology is already widely available: it’s known as a hyperlink.) His key message is a useful one, though: give me the facts and cut the hype.

In response, Stuart Bruce asks what became of the XPRL initiative, which promised to do something like this for the news making process. My view is that it was over-complicated and not sufficiently useful to anyone but the clippings agencies. XPRL never had a convincing elevator pitch.

Chris at Hacking Cough finds the press release easy enough to deal with, and also doubts that the XML approach would offer sufficient benefit.

My challenge is even more fundamental. Some students – and I confess some past clients too – just don’t see that there’s any difference between a news release and a news report. I therefore feel the need to teach news writing (eg the inverted pyramid as described by Chris) before teaching news release writing. And then introducing media relations as a process of mediation between the organisation’s news and what a journalist perceives as news.

6 Responses to “Deconstructing news”

  1. Wow, teaching students of PR how media creates stories! I would think that should be a number one priority?
    That demonstrates the gulf between the two communications organisations: PR and media.

  2. Chris Edwards 01/03/2006 at 8:07 pm #

    “And then introducing media relations as a process of mediation between the organisation’s news and what a journalist perceives as news.”
    …And the public’s perception of news. Blogging has given me a much sharper perspective of what the audience regards as news in various forms of media, and what constitutes advertising – to paraphrase Rubin Frank. Although it’s dangerous to draw too many conclusions from what is said purely in the blogosphere, the feedback that is coming in is changing the way we look at the stories we write. And that is going to lead to a greater separation between PR and the press over time, with or without better press releases, at least on news. Feature writing? Now that’s a different matter.

  3. PR Opinions 01/03/2006 at 11:07 pm #

    Kicking the dead dog… new “meme”

    Many strange phrases have entered into the Interweb consciousness, think of “jump the shark”, “the long tail”, “markets are conversations”, so I have a new one: “Kicking the dead dog”**. “Kicking the dead dog” describes the preponderance of people onli…

  4. Alexandra Pullin 03/03/2006 at 1:27 pm #

    Why not teach the importance of media writing as part of media relations in a seperate optional module? It is important that it is realised that there are so many different styles of writing expected and students should be given the oppotunity to develop their skills especially when writting for specific audiences and under different circumstances.
    I am sure that Ralph Tench would back you up.

  5. David Phillips 11/03/2006 at 5:47 pm #

    We are, I think, talking press relations here.
    A minority sport for most PR now I think.

  6. David Phillips 11/03/2006 at 6:01 pm #

    bbbbbut… you are using XML. Some are using XPRL. Why should you see it? Its just a way of formatting information. What is an RSS feed? XML.
    This is why XML is important to the PR industry.
    Pity people want to use it for press releases its like adding an F1 engine to a dog cart.

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