«13TH INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC RELATIONS RESEARCH CONFERENCE “Ethical Issues for Public Relations Practice in a Multicultural World” Holiday Inn ...»
1. Should all bloggers be given “press or media” credentials to any news conference or special event as do their more traditional counterparts?
2. Should “citizen journalists” be accorded the same respect/privileges as their more traditional counterparts who use gatekeepers/editors?
Using the Delphi method, once the authors received the first set of responses, they compiled them and sent the 20 responses asking each respondent to rank order the responses in this second and final round. After receiving the ranked responses, the authors were able to draw some conclusions regarding journalists as compared to public relations professionals as well as overall findings.
First Round, Public Relations Question 1. Most public relations practitioners responded with a resounding “no” to the first question in the first round. Respondents suggested that credentialing blogs and other forms of online media should be conducted as a case-by-case practice. Other comments indicated that all bloggers aren’t equal. Bloggers with demonstrated influence and reach should be defined by those hosting the news conference/event. Bloggers, like traditional media, should subject themselves to the credentialing process and meet established criteria. Bloggers who pen responsible and respected blogs should be included. Two of five practitioners believed that bloggers have become a mainstream source of information and as such are credible and influential and thus should receive media credentials.
Public relations educators all indicated that bloggers should not necessarily be given media credentials to news conferences/events. Educators indicated that although some bloggers have 225 established a reputation for fair and professional treatment of information, they aren’t necessarily journalists. Educators suggested a need for adherence to journalistic standards and professional codes of conduct as well as commitment to responsible use of communication channels. Not all bloggers have the same level of training or motivation and may not be accountable to anyone. They do not have the chain of fact checkers. According to educators, bloggers can say what they want without sanction apart from legal redress—always a risky route.
Question 2. Regarding the second question, public relations practitioners agree that citizen journalists, like bloggers, do not always provide credible, unbiased information. Without training and expertise in a particular area, citizen journalists are not given much credence by PR pros. According to one practitioner, “While I respect and admire the efforts of citizen journalists in principle, what separates them from the traditional news media is the lack of a gatekeeper/editor to ensure that the coverage is accurate and objective. Until citizen journalists are held to that standard, they cannot be accorded the same respect/privileges.” Public relations educators concur that citizen journalists should not be accorded the same privileges of their traditional counterparts. Educators indicated the need to accord citizen journalists privileges based on a record of responsible reporting. Because citizen journalists lack the same standards or accountability, they should not receive the same “privileges.”
First Round: Journalism
Question 1. Most journalists note that it depends on the blogger. Bloggers should have access if they represent credible news outlets. According to one respondent, “The point of media credentials is to allow designated, professional journalists to cover an event and write/broadcast for the public.” One journalist indicated that bloggers should receive access after the more established media outlets. Several journalists indicated the need for a code of conduct/standards for bloggers to legitimize and authenticate them.
Most journalism professors indicate that bloggers should not be accorded the same respect/privileges as their more traditional counterparts unless and until they meet the same criteria that traditional journalists must meet. Those who follow journalistic standards should be credentialed to then disseminate information in a wide and credible way. One educator suggests that if bloggers can show a legitimate interest in covering an event, they should be included in the interest of openness.
Question 2. Most journalists responded that respect/privileges have to be earned so that it is situational. One respondent notes that citizen journalists are not professionals who go to school to learn their profession. Another journalist notes that the public reacts differently when it knows it is dealing with an established media outlet versus the website of a citizen journalist. Not having a gatekeeper makes readers skeptical of what they read. One notes that respect should be earned.
Journalism professors note that those citizen journalists “who conduct their work in keeping with accepted standards and with an acknowledgment and adherence to journalism’s high ideals of accuracy, fairness and ethics,” should receive the same respect/privileges as their more traditional counterparts. One educator notes that it was an anonymous citizen journalist who captured the killing of Nada Aghan-Soltan in Iran.
Second Round: Ranked Responses, Question 1
For Question 1, we looked at all 17 respondents (3 of the 20 first-round respondents did not complete the second round) and determined the means of their answers. We then selected the three most highly ranked choices. These choices represent the sentiment that all bloggers should not be given media credentials. Bloggers should receive media credentials if they can demonstrate a viable audience, if they work for traditional news organizations, if they follow journalistic standards, or if they have a legitimate track record.
All Public Relations Respondents. Public relations practitioners and educators alike believe that all bloggers should be not given media credentials. One respondent sums it up for the public relations experts: “There should be a process in place through which bloggers and other unaffiliated or amateur journalists can be afforded media access.” Another respondent notes, “Bloggers, like traditional media, must subject themselves to the credentialing process and meet established criteria.
The purpose of credentialing the media, in part, is to make sure that only credible journalists have access.” All Journalism Respondents. Journalism experts were somewhat divided in their responses to the question regarding bloggers receiving media credentials. The top overall response was “yes.” This respondent indicates that the only way to keep the public informed is to keep access to all types of media open. However, this expert suggests that a system of credentials for these outlets would be wise. Other journalism experts note that bloggers should apply for media credentials. Those granting the credentials should use the same or similar criteria to grant these credentials for bloggers and traditional media outlets.
Second Round: Ranked Responses, Question 2
For Question 2, we again looked at all 17 experts as a composite selecting the top three highly-ranked responses. All three of the top-ranked responses used the same wording, “respect has to be earned.” The top responses indicate that citizen journalists, like bloggers, must have a track record of honest, fair reporting and should go through a filtering process.
All Public Relations Respondents. Regarding the second question, public relations experts indicate that citizen journalists should not be accorded the same privileges as their more traditional counterparts who use gatekeepers/editors. Their skills, experience, and agendas may not be the same as traditional journalists. Another expert notes that not having a gatekeeper can make readers skeptical of what they’re reading, contributing to a lack of respect. Experts indicated a concern with the agenda of a citizen journalist rather than a traditional journalist who is responsive to both a code of ethics and a gatekeeper.
All Journalism Respondents. Regarding citizen journalists, journalism experts note the same sentiment as their public relations counterparts—that respect and privileges are earned. One expert notes, “We give traditional media respect because of who they are and what they represent in our society. But for a citizen to be elevated to that status and gain respect, he/she must have a track record of honest, fair reporting.” Interestingly, many journalism educators selected responses from public relations educators as their most highly ranked responses and vice versa. Journalists had similar, yet distinct answers from those of their public relations colleagues.
The purpose of a Delphi study is to create consensus from a panel of experts—in this case, experts from two distinct fields. Although individual respondents differed from the “no” responses to both questions 1 and 2, the majority of public relations and journalism experts believe in the need for a credentialing system. All experts seem to concur that while bloggers and citizen journalists offer the public more access, that access must be tempered by some method of filtering the information.
In conclusion, future research should explore what type of standards/credentials could be developed and implemented so that bloggers and citizen journalists alike could receive the “privileges” of the profession. In addition, we plan to conduct in-depth interviews with major organizations like the U.S. Navy and the American Medical Association to discuss their current media credentialing practices.
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Glaser, M. (2006, September 27). MediaShift: Your guide to citizen journalism. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2006/09/your-guide-to-citizen-journalism270.html Goode, L. (2009, November 24). Social news, citizen journalism and democracy. New Media & Society, 11, 1287. doi: 10:1177/1461444809341393. Retrieved from http://nms.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/11/8/1287 Hynes, A. (2009, December 22). Journalism that matters: Citizen journalists and government press releases [Web log message]. Retrieved from http:// groups.google.com/group/jtmlist/browse_thread/thread/3b11da177fd9a722?hl=en# Jarvis, J. (2006, July 5) Buzz machine: Networked journalism [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.buzzmachine.com/2006/07/05/networked-journalism Journalism that matters: Citizen journalists and government press releases. (2009). Retrieved from http:// groups.google.com/group/jtmlist/browse_thread/thread/3b11da177fd9a722?hl=en# Society for Neuroscience (2010). Media credentials. Retrieved from http://www.sfn.org/am2010/index.aspx?pagename=Media_Credentials#freelancers Stein, S. (2009, December 22). Bill Press becomes intern for Bernie Sanders. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/22/bill-press-becomes-intern_n_400744.html The New York Press Club (2010, March 2). Press credentialing: New York City Law Department announces publication of proposed new rules for press passes that incorporate online media (Press release). Retrieved from http://www.nypressclub.org/hottopics.html#creds Thompson, D. (2009, December 22). Journalism that matters: Citizen journalists and government press releases [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://groups.google.com/group/jtmlist/browse_thread/thread/3b11da177fd9a722?hl=en# Williams, R. (2009, December 22). Journalism that matters: Citizen journalists and government press releases [Web log message]. Retrieved from http:// groups.google.com/group/jtmlist/browse_thread/thread/3b11da177fd9a722?hl=en# 229
Using Relationship Management to Encourage Ethical Practice among Cultural Strangers:
A Survey of Millennial Generation Public Relations Agency Employees
Acknowledgment: This research was supported by the Public Relations Society of America Foundation and the University of Oregon.
AbstractThis study reports data from a nationwide survey of the Millennial Generation of public relations agency employees. We examined organization-employee relationships and factors affecting ethical decision making. The survey employed Hon and Grunig’s (1999) scales to measure relationship outcomes: control mutuality, trust, commitment, and satisfaction. The results of the organizationemployee measures were reported in previous research, and they are only used here to illuminate the relationship between ethics and the organization-employee relationship. In addition, the survey explored the usefulness of Bowen’s (2005) practical model for ethical decision making from the perspectives of Millennial agency practitioners. Millennials were also asked to share their opinions about the helpfulness of educational training and PRSA’s code of ethics.