Career Opportunities: Decline in Reporters Spurs on PR Professionals

A recent news article listed jobs that are on the decline such as Desktop Publisher, Reporter, Semiconductor Processor, Insurance Appraiser…and more. Instead of these four job functions, alternative careers include: Graphic Designer, PR Specialist, Database Administrator and Cost Estimator. For PR professionals, the outlook is good. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the PR field is expected to grow 23 percent between 2010 and 2020. Thanks to the Internet revolution and the growth of social media in particular, the need for communications professionals to be proactive in dealing with bad news or spreading good news is critical. A bachelor’s degree in one of the following areas is the typical entry path: public relations, communications, journalism, English or business.

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Twitter Your Career Away

The power of words used on a social media platform have proven to be a destructive force for one journalist. According to Nir Rosen, a liberal freelance journalist who recently wrote about the Egyptian government overthrow, a series of unfortunate comments he made regarding Lara Logan, the American CBS correspondent who was sexually assaulted in Cairo resulted in him losing his job at New York University. In an article for Salon magazine http://www.salon.com/news/egyptian_protests/index.html?story=/mwt/feature/2011/02/17/nir_rosen_explains_twitter_controversy, he defended his reasoning and offered an apology. Ultimately, the irony is that the same people who read his questionable Twitter posts are not likely the same people who read the Salon magazine article. Another version of this news is rather shamelessly described in a very different opinion piece written for American Thinker magazine here: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/02/risky_business_lara_logan_and.html. In my opinion, there is little doubt that Twitter has the same power to incite a mob mentality. At a minimum, such short “tweets” can cause both misunderstanding and misbehavior on the part of the reader or the writer. In America, the freedom of the press allows both of these written articles to exist without government censorship or recrimination, however, public opinion via the Internet certainly appears to be more abrupt and career limiting.

Lara Logan, CBS Journalist

Smear Campaign By Toyota PR or By Victims’ Lawyers?

According to an article from the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/14/AR2010051405390.html?hpid=topnews, Toyota recently conducted opinion polls designed to test messages that would discredit researchers who criticized the company’s actions following the sticky accelerator problems of recent months. At the heart of the story, are the actions of a polling firm (and its associated PR agency) that were designed to debunk the credibility of experts who testified before Congress about Toyota’s failure to respond adequately to this safety issue. And there you have what seems to be a straightforward story: influencing public opinion using research practices designed to directly attack “unfair or false assertions.” However, the story seems even more misleading, or confusing the more you read: the individuals involved appear to already be biased against the automaker! One is an auto industry safety consultant who authors a blog critical of Toyota. The other man is an auto technology professor in Illinois who conducted a study that supposedly revealed Toyota engine design flaws. (Toyota officials claim the same test would generate the same results for all automobiles.)  Oh, and by the way, the safety consultant works with victims’ attorneys. Is the headline of this story misleading? The idea of intimidating witnesses is wrong and likely illegal, but what of the credibility of the witnesses themselves? If your business was threatened by nasty bloggers (allied with lawyers intent on destroying your company or suing you for millions) or a “test” conducted by a vocal critic, wouldn’t you deem it fair to present the facts and tell your side of the story? It goes on every single day in American politics with candidates and elected officials fighting each other through research, opinion polls, pseudo-science, etc. Case in point: When was the last time you had a rational conversation with someone about the Theory of Global Warming (now called “Climate Change” by proponents) without getting into a heated discussion–pun intended–with someone who has plenty of evidence and science that appears to be politically motivated? Ugh.

Apparently more details of this particular Toyota poll will be made public next week. Then we’ll likely hear more about how egregious the actions were by Toyota…but perhaps what will be lost in the message is whether or not the critics themselves are legitimate. Ask yourself this, do they have a personal investment or professional credibility at stake? What is their motivation? What do they have to lose or gain? Of course Al Gore will promote his environmental world view. He stands to make a lot of money by promoting hysteria. Perhaps this post didn’t go where you thought it would, but let me leave you with one more thought: follow the money trail and it will always reveal much more. Your thoughts?

Cash for Popularity: The Latest Journalistic Twist

The NY Observer announced a new policy  of offering cash bonuses as an incentive to entice reporters to write about popular subjects and boost web visits to their stories. Read more here: http://www.theawl.com/2010/05/pink-weekly-debuts-cash-for-traffic-reporter-bonus-jackpot-scheme.

While this publication is not the NY Times or the Wall St. Journal, the idea behind it may open the door for editorializing, opinion pieces and entertainment for other news outlets. It made me think of the lead-in to the local TV FOX news affiliate last night. The top “news” story was about the TV show “24” and star Kiefer Sutherland and that fact that his alter ego, a.k.a. Jack Bauer is ending his final crusade against terrorists in the final season of this hit TV show. Since when does prime time TV programming constitute news? According to FOX TV, that would be nearly every night. Recent studies indicate that the majority of Americans still get their news, in this order of priority: TV (local news first, national next) and now the Internet (Source: Pew Internet research: http://www.pewinternet.org/Media-Mentions/2010/CNN-Tech-Online-News.aspx)–and newspapers third. How do you get your news fix and do you care if it’s packaged as entertainment?