Could a stint in PR be the best education for journalists?

Tomorrow's Business

Do flaks outright lie to hacks? I’d say it definitely happens, but not that often.

Lying by omission is more common and I can see why that occurs.

I made the mistake of being sanguine about this to someone who’s, erm, dabbled in both fields.

He was very cross. He says working in PR was “one of the best bits of journalism education I ever got”, since it taught him some new tricks.

1) He learnt how “flaks mislead by employing selective facts and answering questions you aren’t really asking - thereby allowing them to maintain their most prized claim: ‘I have never lied to a journalist’ (that’s a lie). I used to think: ‘A PR said this definitely wasn’t true, so it can’t be’. Now I think: ‘How is he able to justify saying this isn’t true? Have I asked the question stupidly?’ (Answer: almost certainly).

2) He learnt how “peer pressure creeps up on you and makes some pretty average behaviour seem vaguely acceptable. Stuff you would previously have considered as shifty, is now a clever form of words. So, I don’t even trust former hacks saying they are trying to help me out. They aren’t. They are trying to protect their jobs/bonus/reputation/revenue stream. I don’t blame them for that. It is just nice to belatedly discover the rules of the game”.

Maybe we’re being lied to much more often than I think. Discuss…



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