Letter: Public relations has its place in journalism education
As a public relations student, I can’t speak for the ad side of things, but — Jonathan Bowers doesn’t get it.
He’s operating from an antiquated perception of public relations practitioners, a stereotype of spin doctors whispering all the right things to say into politicians’ ears to win them more blind (and financial) support. The University’s PR classes cover the moments in time when this was — and, occasionally, still is — practiced, and professors tell us to avoid doing the same at all costs.
We are repeatedly told to be transparent, uphold integrity and develop solid win-win relationships between clients and their publics, and to drop any organization that brushes our morals the wrong way. We don’t sit in lecture laughing about all the cash we’re going to rake in for corporate America come graduation; @@yeah you [email protected]@instead, we are taught a versatile set of skills, ranging from blogging and brochure-writing @@I mean, that’s a solid skill, [email protected]@to campaign-planning and research.
We are told that the public of today can’t be fooled — the selfish, greedy truth will always come [email protected]@ouch, looks like you just got found [email protected]@ — and that they will never forgive companies that deceive them. Arguing for honest communication in an organization that we believe plays a meaningful role in society, even when our superiors tell us to cover up the blemishes, is of absolute importance. Defending a cause we don’t believe in is difficult — we do possess souls.
Most of all, we disperse information, which is the very definition of “communication.”@@Westboro Baptist Church is real good at that communication thing [email protected]@
Of course, there’s no guarantee that grads will uphold these ethics, just as there is no guarantee that journalists will graduate and work toward the greater good of the world. Journalism does not always operate with altruistic intentions, and is often swayed by business, government and individuals. Bowers should sit in on a few PR classes before passing judgment.
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