Video: “Between a rock and a hard place” PR and journalism in harmony?

— Due to technical reasons there is a 10 minute gap between these videos

“When something is constantly fed to you, you have little knowledge of how to feed yourself”, this is Grimsby Telegraph’s editor, Michelle Lalor’s warning against what a poor relationship between PR and journalism can lead to.

While managing director of company Lava PR, Matt Hammerton, said it is a “two-way relationship… but not an open one”.

This debate took place in the University of Lincoln’s Cargill Lecture Theatre on Monday, November 22nd as part of the “Journalists speak out on Journalism”, which is spearheaded by lecturer Richard Keeble.

Lalor and Hammerton agreed on large areas of the debate, both taking the view that PR will continue to be a vital tool of the journalist, and vice-versa.

Lalor compared journalism of 20 years ago to that of today, showing that the methods for information gathering have changed completely.

“Fighting against something that you have no influence over is a waste of time… PR is here to stay, we need to live with it.”

She also mentioned that editors can break the personal boundaries that can be built by PR. Whereas a young reporter may not be able to get past the PR office, but a respected editor may be able to talk to someone who can give a story more character.

Hammerton used the metaphor of a church confessional to describe the one sided relationship between PR and Journalism, in which a PR source will never be credited by a journalist in their stories; despite them providing a lead.

He also bemoaned the rise of “oven-ready news” meaning news that has come straight from PR to Journalism, with no groundwork in the middle.

When asked about politicians making mistakes in the media, and the need for PR thereof he said: “Any vehicle that you don’t know how to drive is dangerous.”

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