Sunday, May 30, 2010
What Makes News?: A Public Relations Perspective
We in our department are in this good habit of discussing and probing on issues which bother us in our profession of journalism and public relations. One such issue which came up again in the discussion was the one on Pseudo Events.Is the definition of Pseudo Events as described by Daniel Boorstein as that which "exists for the sole purpose of the media publicity and serves little to no other function in real life. Without the media, nothing meaningful actually occurs at the event, so pseudo-events are considered “real” only after they are viewed through news, advertisement, television or other types of media." hold true to defining all news emerging from press conferences as pseudo events as press conferences are called as pseudo events?
Mr.Sanjay Ranade, Reader at our department had opined that Daniel Boorstein has defined this concept from a historian's point of view.All news cannot be pseudo events, as all news cannot be 'created' for the media.There will always be news which needs to be given to the media as there is no other way the media could get the news.So this brought us to yet another hypothesis that "all press conferences are not pseudo events." Supporting this view is W. Lance Bennett who categorizes news like this:
1)Fully Controlled (released news, pseudo-event)
2)Partially Controlled (press conference, etc.)
3) Uncontrolled (ex. Watergate, Daniel Ellsberg, Iraq prisoner abuse photos)
If you notice Bennett does not classify all news as pseudo events.Nor does he say that all press conferences are pseudo events, and he puts it under the category of being partially controlled.
So If you connect this with agenda building in public relations I will say that agenda building of public relations stems from this very thought that only when information is scarce will journalists turn to public relations for information as they are confirmed sources of official information about the company. As rightly put by Carl Botan and Vincent Hazleton in their Book Public Relations Theory II "The greater the information scarcity the better the chances that sources that control the information can influence the media agenda." So this may not always be 'created' information but genuine information to be given for dissemination. The entire process of agenda building if you closely watch is a a very dynamic process of making news.The news here may not be always 'created' here even though it is being made.
More on Agenda building in the next note...
Let me know your thoughts.