Week 9 Blog Journal: Media Relations and News

Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie

Steve Jobs versus Dennis Ritchie: Even if you invented computing language as we know it today, you can be a nobody. Image source: Facebook

Chapter 6 of Richard Stanton’s book “Media Relations” describes the relationships between PR practioners(agents),their clients, and the media(more specifically, traditional  media as opposed to citizen media). He then describes how the media , the agent, and the client each desire to fulfil a goal in the co-creation of news, and each asserts a self-motivated influence on the piece of news discourse. Stanton then proposes how the agent(PR practitioner) can work within these selfish motivations to create viable media relations: between themselves, clients, and the media. These involve the profiling of the individuals in the media and the positioning of the issues within frames such as to maximise the news angles that the media wants with the coverage that clients want. These also involved synergies the agent can leverage upon to create unique angles while maintaining the level of client satisfaction.

Stanton starts by pointing out that media relations tend to hinge on a strategy of building personal and organisational relationships, or connections, between editors/reporters and the newsmakers(also referred to as clients). Said newsmakers are frequently corporations, government agencies, charities and non-profit organisations, societies, special interest groups, amongst others. The crux of the chapter is that PR practitioners have to balance the client’s interest in coverage and advertising with the interest of the journalist who wishes to create a news item. In doing so they can build upon opportunities of common interests in both clients and the media, banking on the . Stanton describes these terms in purely normative exposition, without comment on the state of ethical or positive standards.

In doing so, Stanton defines news as purely the purview of the client and the media(with the possible intercession of the agent). He makes the point that audiences/citizens are not part of the news-making process. This seems counter-intuitive in that it does not take into consideration the talk-back features and 2-way communications that many newspapers, radio shows, online platforms, and other miscellaneous media. However, Stanton is describing the traditional context of media in “imagining” news, and not the minority of news-making processes. News is viewed in terms of a vehicle for clients to trade upon the commodity of news.

This is not to say that the news have no objective value to citizens, but rather that the process of imagining news does not involve citizens in any large way. The subtle difference is that whilst we, as citizens, view the news for value, that value is a by-product of the trade between the media and the client. Alone,  the Citizen has limited ability to control what appears in news. That being said, the recent cases of the News of the World handphone mailbox hackings has suggested that sufficient public opinion, under the flak of the people, can have an effect on what happens in the news.

This description of the news making process as being exclusive to the powerful organisations of the world  bears much resemblance to Noam Chomsky’s propaganda model(1988), where Chomsky and Herman describe the media as being subsidised by the powers that be, i.e. governments and corporations.

I find this chapter to be largely coherent and useful, although Stanton’s lack of address of the new media comprising news and the possibility of the role of the citizen in agent-facilitated news making is somewhat disappointing. But this is understandable as the scope of the book only aims to describe the states of PR at large at the moment.

References

Chomsky, N., & Herman, E. S. (1988). Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1st ed.). New York: Pantheon Books.

Stanton, R. (2007). Developing Media Relationships Around News. In R. Stanton, Media Relations (pp. 95-114). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

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