Is public relations affecting the authenticity of news and dominating the world of journalism? – Read more to find out!

The media industry is constantly witnessing radical changes with the latest trends of creative digital and social media platforms. Technology has played a pivotal role in shaping the medium of communication and making it more real time. While some of us still await the daily newspaper every morning to complement our tea time, others have gone digital and rather rely on Facebook and Instagram to receive and to be updated with the daily news. This has certainly pressurized media publications to allocate huge finances and resources to get more exposure in the digital market. For instance, the well-reputed newspaper of Saudi Arabia – Saudi Gazette that has been in the market since 1978 has recently announced to shut down its print operations and go completely digital in order to source out real-time news and feature long stories that are restricted in traditional newspapers.

However, the question that remains unanswered is - if public relations has made reporters to receive authentic and newsworthy stories or has it become a convenience to publish easy to access stories that are often biased and promotional?

In this era, public relations is booming where corporations have experimented diverse mechanisms and practices to get maximum coverage for their clientele. In fact, newspapers, magazines, broadcast channels and online news platforms have pulled their editorial closer by embracing relations with PR firms and secured finances through advertorials and public relation narratives.

However, this has also challenged media publications to deliver news that is interesting, newsworthy, unique, and of course unbiased. The latter being extremely important as there is clearly a very thin line between delivering news that is in the interest of the public and publishing the ones that are poorly researched and highly promotional. Hence, media outlets have adopted a different strategy of writing more feature articles than previously alongside the daily/local news.

In fact, since 2016, there has been 5% increase of stories in the ‘Arts and Lifestyle’ section where reporters focus on individuals, firms and special events giving it an interesting or ‘unusual’ angle towards it which may or may not have been received from a public relations firm. This is certainly a win-win for both the publication as well as the firm who has been feeding information about the respective story, thereby giving a unique perspective to the overall story.

As recorded in 2019, there are more than 298 newspapers in the Middle Eastern region which includes countries such as – United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jorden, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar etc. On the other hand, there is a rise of more than 2.5% in business, trade and lifestyle magazines equivalent to 771 magazines in the Middle Eastern region.

In fact, UAE has the maximum number of media outlets with the ratio of newspaper and magazines - 1:5, with a total of 75 newspapers and 352 magazines. Hence, it can safe to say that the media industry is expecting to feature more individual stories through the support of these magazines and PR firms which is perhaps restricted through the medium of newspapers.

Answering the above question- yes, public relation firms have made some big changes in the media which has caught certain publications off-guard, but the editors and reporters continue to deliver news that is important for their readers which is smartly done by choosing a relevant angle and using a language that is not promotional. Well, some things don’t change or have they?