Whatever happened to the good old days of old fashioned, true journalism, which endeavoured to tell a story based on the values of truth and the right of the reader to be informed?
These days, it’s not just a matter of talking to sources to get the real story out there – there’s always a well-oiled PR machine lurking in the background ready to wield its influence, building up its own culture of wheeling and dealing, hospitality and freebies, to let everyone know who is really calling the shots. It makes for a fun life for us trade journos – a free handset one week, concert ticket the next, not to mention the ever-present free booze at the countless launch parties.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m young and fanciful and take from the pot like everyone else does, but I’m painfully aware of the motives behind it all and play along because it’s easier to do so in this already ingrained system than not. I see it as part of the job – yes, it’s a tough life, insert sarcasm here, but at the end of the day it’s better for me to partake in all things PR-oriented because it does make my job a little easier when we’re all back in the office, sober and attempting to bash out some words, to ask someone for help when we’ve shared a chat over a drink or two, or if I have firsthand knowledge of how the handset or product I am writing about actually works.
It’s when the said PR machine attempts to manipulate, rather than aid, press content, that it begins to concern me, and turns the journalism profession into a tactical, strategic game rather than the straight up telling of a story to pass on valuable information to the reader.
Perhaps I’m forgetting that mobile is largely a corporate world and companies are extremely sensitive of how they are portrayed in the press, and that they are the ones that have made the PR machines what they are today. And when PR is helpful, it is worth its weight in gold. I guess you could call it a love hate relationship.