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Print is dead?

20 Feb

News_reader Ahead of tonight’s talk (Print is dead: long live new media) take a look at my news reader this morning. It’s dominated by news feeds from traditional media sources (The Guardian newspaper and PR Week in my case). Only one solitary PR blogger interrupts the stream of news from professional reporters (the energetic Trevor Cook).

One hypothesis suggests that new media will replace old media; this is supported by the closure of some magazines and the decline in circulation (and advertising revenues) of most newspapers. Another hypothesis argues that the traditional skills of the news journalist (speed, selectivity, accuracy, compelling storytelling, editing) gain new value online; that there’s new life in old brands.

Notice how both hypotheses can be true when traditional media adapts for an online future.

Print is Dead – Long Live New Media

13 Feb

Copied from a CIPR regional newsletter. This event should be of interest to some PR students and all of those on my ‘PR and new media’ module.

Print is Dead – Long Live New Media

20 February – James Graham Building, Headingley Campus, Leeds Metropolitan University

What does PR mean in the internet age? Now that information is more likely to be delivered via a monitor than through print it is time to explore new creative options. The ground has shifted so rapidly that firms continue to deliver press releases that no longer work to a media world that no longer exists.

What do firms need to know to be able to move with the times rather than be left behind by the new media wave?

David Parkin, founder of The and formerly business editor of the Yorkshire Post will explain the way forward in reporting business news and why he decided to leave print media in favour of the internet.

David is a high profile figure in the business community and has held senior roles on newspapers in London, Cardiff and the Midlands. He has secured many exclusive interviews with major business figures including Sir Ken Morrison, Lord Hanson and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This seminar will take place on 20 February at James Graham Building, Leeds Metropolitan University 6 – 8pm. The event is free to attend to register your place please call Nicky Wake, Don’t Panic Projects on 01706 828855 or email

My week in media

7 Jan

I’ve been tagged by Simon Wakeman. Since I’m indebted to him (he’s setting up the online edition of Behind the Spin magazine), here goes. This is my week in media, January 1-6 2008.

What I’ve read

  • The Economist (essential weekly reading)
  • The Observer (favourite columnists include Andrew Rawnsley on politics, John Naughton on technology and Simon Caulkin on management – he makes his column sound rather like a blog…)
  • Double Fault by Lionel Shriver (tennis as a metaphor for marital strife)
  • God’s Architect – the new biography of Pugin
  • Lonely Planet and Insight guides to Oman / Arabia (I’m going there next week)

What I’ve listened to

What I’ve watched

  • My television highlight was Andy Murray winning the ATP tennis title in Doha (British Eurosport)
  • Lots of news: usually BBC or Channel 4, but sometimes Al-Jazeera for a different perspective

What I’ve surfed

  • RSS feeds (in Google Reader) – though it still felt like a holiday week
  • Travel and currency conversion websites
  • I’ve lived vicariously watching so many New Year’s Eve party photos appearing on Facebook (me, I prefer to stay at home – that way I’ve avoided the flu and the vomiting bug…)

I’ve probably understated my television and radio consumption: radio is always on in the car and in the kitchen. But this list has reminded me how much I still value print. Thank you, Simon. Rather than tagging others, why don’t you pick up the baton (after all, you’ve read this far)?

Imagine a world without journalism

13 Nov

Here are the winners of this year’s student media awards. Now consider the context. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, speaking at Leeds University last Friday, placed newspapers in the context of Web 2.0. That’s a crowded competitive landscape and a threat to the traditional newspaper.

Some PR students don’t like studying journalism. Others don’t get the opportunity (old media or new media). Yet the future is already here: more and more news (Ian Hargreaves calls it ‘ambient news’), but less and less investigative journalism. Politicians don’t get held to account and PR practitioners hold all the cards. I confess this thought troubles me.

Press gang: PR jobs

20 Jun

UkpgSell out or sign of the times? (Or perhaps just an unfortunate snapshot). But today’s highlighted jobs on UK Press Gazette are, as you can see, PR jobs. Or rather, media relations jobs.

There’s nothing new in experienced journalists preferring the better pay and prospects in PR (I recall thinking PR was ‘money for old rope’ way back when; I now know how wrong this assumption was). But are we reaching a point when PR and corporate communications might be the only alternative to a risky life as a freelance writer? If so, is journalism the best training for a career in PR? What do PR degrees offer over and above journalism and media relations?

Debating democracy

22 Apr

This is for Simon. The Economist’s survey of new media is a historically literate analysis, comparing the emergence of participatory media with the invention of the printing press. It’s a sober analysis too:

The availability of religious texts in the vernacular [at the Reformation] led to literalist and fundamentalist movements, and indirectly to religious wars. The surge of textual expression produced not only classics but also pornography and propaganda.

The central issue is a question of command-and-control or participation.

Generally speaking, people who have faith in democracy welcome participatory media, whereas people who have reservations will be nostalgic for the top-down certainties of the mass media.

Clearly this includes regimes, but it also refers to organisations (and this is where the public relations adviser needs to be engaging in debate). By coincidence, I see that the CIPR’s annual general meeting is to be followed by a debate on ‘public relations and democracy – essential partners?’ Interesting.

Masters of truth

18 Apr

This article presents a typical US view on the difference between journalism and public relations. One deals in the objective truth, it suggests; the other requires ‘talented but unquestioning yes-people to put to the millstone’.

In Britain, there’s more questioning of journalistic objectivity, even by journalists themselves.

In Australia, Keith Jackson posts some parallel thoughts today.

Meet our PoweR Girls!

23 Feb

No Friends? Missing Frasier? Lost without Sex and the City? Well, MTV is about to give us New York’s PoweR Girls. I fear this will provide a further boost to the numbers applying to study public relations. (Thanks to Tom Murphy for spotting this key PR industry development.)

Meanwhile, lest you think us all flakes and air heads, meet three of our PowerR students.

There’s Bettina; she’s from Norway and is a fan of the Beatles. There’s Rachael; she has food on her mind. There’s Lucy, who wants you to know that university’s not just about work, it’s fun too. And Joanna, who is now relaxing after her exams.

Press, participation and young people

25 Nov

Shel Holtz points to studies showing that young people don’t buy newspapers. I suspect that the newspaper buying habit comes with a settled life: commuters and home workers find them more valuable than students, who are still largely creating their own entertainment, gossip and issues.

Yet it’s our job as PR practitioners and academics to encourage a newsreading habit. I start with a simple task: I require each first year student to get a letter, in their name, in a newspaper. (I’m aware of the potential ethical problem, which is why the student’s letter has to be in their name on a subject of their choice and sent to a newspaper they have picked.)

Watching the connection being made between cause (letter) and effect (words in print) – and noting the responses of the many people who do read and take note of newspapers is very encouraging (and a good start point for understanding media relations). One student tells how she was stopped several times in the street in her home town by people who remembered her and who had read her letter in the evening paper. Never underestimate the power of the press.

Frontline online

16 Nov

For those who missed it, Douglas Rushkoff’s TV programme The Persuaders is now available online.