On of the features of Crikey.com.au is a series of lists and registers we are developing. In the media section we have assembled more than 10 lists on different journalists to explore the close relationship between business, politics, media, and the public relations industry.
One of the features of Crikey.com.au is a series of lists and registers we are developing. In the Media section we have assembled more than 10 lists on different journalists to explore the close relationship between business, politics, media and the public relations industry.
In our first issue we are publishing four lists. They are:
1. Journalists working in the media today who have been press secretaries for politicians.
2. Former journalists who are currently working for politicians.
3. Former journalist now working in corporate affairs for companies.
4. Former journalists now working for public relations firms.
Some of the other lists that we will publish in the weeks ahead include:
* journalists who have been posted overseas by Australian media outlets
* journalists who have made it into senior management posts
* journalists who have made it working for major foreign media outlets overseas
* what happens to former editors
* political and business journalists with more than 15 years experience who have never “sold out”
We don’t want any of these to be seen as a black lists but rather a constructive means of better understanding journalism and its interface with the political and corporate sectors. However, Crikey starts from the viewpoint that what we consume through our media is affected by three worrying things:
1. The prevalence of the PR industry given that there are now twice as many spin doctors as journalists in Australia.
2. Continuing cuts to editorial resources across all media which already suffers from lack of diversity.
3. The commercial agendas of the media owners which sometimes influence what is published or broadcast.
As someone who “sold out” and worked as a spin doctor for Jeff Kennett, I saw how easy it was to manipulate the media and public opinion. The journalists only ever knew about 10 per cent of what was happening and the public about five per cent. However, seeing how it works on the inside makes you a better journalist as you have a greater insight into the political process and develop better contacts.
Therefore, selling out is not necessarily a bad thing if you return to journalism. However, it can make it difficult to write about the people you were working for when you have showed your political hand.
The scale of the exodus from journalism to PR is in many respects the manifestation of a broader problem; that being the relatively poor pay and unrewarding nature of many journalistic jobs.
As a spin doctor you get paid much more money, work more regular hours and never get sent out to badger grieving relatives in a “death knock” story. However, your goal is sometimes to distort and manipulate so you can no longer be seen to be working in the public interest, as any good journalist does. This is the trade off people make between life style and journalistic principle.
Crikey would love to receive contributions to this debate from journalists and spin doctors alike. Please email corrections or additions to the lists and any comments you have to [email protected]. Please state if you would like to remain anonymous.