I wonder if it’s time for us to review the number of PR advisors there are around?
I regularly bristle over articles in the paper which are so obviously re-runs of what PR people have written for a stretched journalist to write as “their” article. I say “stretched” because newsrooms are really denuded of the number of staff needed to turn out first grade news all the time. That’s because multi-national companies like Facebook and Google are taking all their revenue. Many journalists are being forced to become “communications” experts to survive personally. I bet many of them would prefer to be delivering up our news in a newsroom somewhere if allowed.
When I left the Council there were 4.5 FTE positions in the communications team at CCC. Now there are over 10 times that number, spread across the Council. I hasten to say that there are people within the communications team at CCC that I trust hugely. I waved out to two of them just this week! They were good journalists and they are still good at their job. It is essential that what an institution, which owes its purpose for existence to our pockets, is doing is understood by us all. Clear communications are fundamental to keep people’s confidence in a public authority.
However, I worry that leaders in our society in important positions are being “cushioned” by their individual teams of “communications” experts. These “communications” experts decide who can speak to the people who are leading their institution. They decide what reply that leader will give. They decide whether the leader can meet this group, or visit that group. Their power is immense. Are they becoming a rotten core in our society’s institutions? In both the public and private sectors. It is becoming impossible to arrange to meet key people because of the barriers which “communications” teams put in place.
So, we have our media outlets unable to compete against the forces of the internet. We have former journalists becoming communications experts. We have these experts setting up control centres in institutions, both public and private, and deciding who will be able to speak with whom and what they will say. At the end of the process the public is becoming increasingly frustrated with what they are being told and instead turning to idiots like Donald Trump who offer them simplistic answers to their troubled minds.
Maybe the real issue is Google, Facebook and their ilk. They have become an international rort. They are often run by Libertarians who have little, if any, ethical commitments to Governments or civil society anywhere. They make sure they pay minimal tax by salting away their ill-gotten gains on some tax haven somewhere. They are a blight on society.