Bad News: How PR Came to Rule Modern Journalism – Full talk plus Q&A


Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to our lovely Skeptics in the Pub crowd, where I took about dissecting the media and generally picking out just how to spot PR bullshit in the press. For all of you who were sadly unable to make it, fret not! For we have the whole thing on video. Feel free to discuss in the comments below!

*Sorry for the random sound issues in the middle – apparently passing taxis were interfering with the radio mics. It was not – repeat NOT – any kind of nefarious hacking tactics from the tabloids…

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  1. #1 by Maddi on September 10, 2013 - 18:56

    First of all, I appreciate your use of video on this post. I guess what I’m thinking after viewing this as a PR student is the fact that PR folks are not the only ones to blame. While these examples are not totally ethical from the PR side, it IS a PR practitioner’s job to promote and advocate. Sending a press release to a news outlet does not mean that the news outlet has to print that information, and it certainly does not mean that they should not check the facts before printing.

  2. #2 by Marsh on September 19, 2013 - 17:03

    Hi Maddi – I agree, completely, absolutely, it’s not entirely the fault of the PR people, they are just doing their job. That said, some of the stories I highlighted (‘Women make bad bosses’, ‘Women lie about the father of their child’, ‘Men are ignorant about their partners’) are often downright nasty, and I think in those instances it is the fault of the PR company who chose that line as the one they’d use for attention.

    Still, overall, my view is that it’s all a lot more complex than people give it credit for. The PR people aren’t evil, they’re doing their job; the journalists aren’t lazy or sloppy, they’re busy and they’re just trying to do their job; the owners aren’t greedy and controlling, they’re just doing their job. Every cog in the wheel is, broadly, turning the right way… but the whole machine is driving the wrong way, and off a cliff.

    If it were simply a case of one element in the chain being ‘wrong’, it would be a hell of a lot easier to fix!

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