Are journalism and PR mutually exclusive?

It’s hard to say as both fields have a lot of similarities between them.  Journalism and PR are forms of communication that illicit responses from the public to address certain issues and sway public opinion to what they feel is right. PR people also have an ethics code where like journalists “they adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth and communicating to the public.” Both also pride themselves on “the ability to communicate clearly, concisely and honestly.” But at the same time in PR, this is reserved to the parties they represent though journalists do the same when they’re writing op-eds and other stories. However, ultimately in my view despite the many intersecting parts PR is a different animal altogether than journalism.

Public relations specialists focus more of their work at event planning to boost a client’s image, how to deal with issues that threaten organizations or clients and advertisement.  Journalists focus on uncovering  issues going on around them, researching possible stories and above all else-fact check sources. There are no attempts by journalists to try and maintain a good image like PR people do by toeing the company line, and only giving out information they want the public to know. Journalism’s main goal is to uncover the truth no matter how ugly, and give voices to those who can’t speak and highlight issues going on that should be addressed. They must report the whole truth, and their job is to be objective and un-biased at all times.

In addition, PR people when writing press releases or advertising their organizations, they only report one side of the story. Journalists can not do this, and must be objective and give the opposition a chance to respond to various claims made by others in order to create an objective account of the facts and tell the whole story. They also depend on press releases created by PR people for stories, if they can’t reach experts like politicians or others who refuse to reach out to journalists for whatever reason. That being said, a PR person is in some ways practicing journalism because your disseminating information to the public, and you also can not intentionally mislead the public with the information you present as it must be sourced and be accurate. Traditional journalism is declining as newspapers are not the prime source the public gets their news from, and even when journalists cover both sides of a story one can usually tell the side that a reporter is leaning towards. It’s virtually impossible for a journalist to be completely un-biased, and therefore while it’s not something I would do, I can understand the shrinking divide of differences between the journalism and PR field.




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