PR/Media Week in Review 04-04-2009

Mark Rose, Editor, PRBlogNews, PR/Media Week in ReviewThis week The New York Times reported that the The New York Times Company was considering ‘closing’ the Boston Globe. There’s an interesting twist to the story as reported:  “The Times Company chairman, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., and Catherine J. Mathis, chief spokeswoman for the company, each declined to comment …”

So, the Times reporter, RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA, is boxed out by the Times‘ head flack and the guy who owns the company (the Times is a publicly traded corporation in name only, it operates more like a family business managing ‘the paper of record’ for the good of us commoners.)  What can the reporter do?  He’s not about to launch an investigative piece on the guy who signs his paycheck.

Still, PÉREZ-PEÑA digs and gives the appearance, at least, of reporting on his employer at arms length by citing an unnamed source:  “The New York Times Company has threatened to close The Boston Globe unless labor unions agree to concessions like pay cuts and the cessation of pension contributions, according to a person briefed on the talks.”

These are extraordinarily precarious times for journalists.  Reporters covering media are like spectators at their own wake. The Sun-Times Media Group, including the Chicago Sun-Times, filed for bankruptcy last week, joining the Chicago Tribune in bankruptcy court.  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ceased printing a few weeks ago and Denver’s Rocky Mountain News folded in February. MediaNews Group Inc., publisher of the Denver Post, San Jose Mercury News,  and St. Paul Pioneer, agreed this week to a restructured debt repayment plan that will keep the newspapers printing, for now.

Media consolidation in the digital age is not surprising – this has been in the works for some time. But the pace has accelerated in recent months as the economy sinks deeper. These days, when I am pitching stories to the media I am also fielding inquiries about possible employment for out-of-work or soon-to-be-laid-off journalists.

See hilarious Colbert Report video below that illustrates, in typical Colbert fashion, why the newspaper business is dead.

This week a conversation kicked up on the LinkedIn Public Relations Professionals group on the usefulness of the press release. I thought this was an issue put to rest a few years ago but apparently not. I am decidedly in the anti-press release camp. Here is my two cents: 

The death of the press release has been chronicled extensively on the web. Traditional press releases are necessary for public companies. Otherwise if you are not crafting news to be optimized on the web and to build digital assets that can be managed, then a ‘press release’ is a waste of time and it frustrates and angers journalists. If you have news to share with journalists it can be done informally, unless there are compliance issues and you need a ‘formal’ release. Writing and following up on press releases is probably the single most time consuming, useless activity that PR people indulge in. Yes, Tom, a summary is great. Look at CNN. Their news stories start with summaries. Write for the web. You can distribute through your own news channels and impact search results – how most people find their news.

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