Thursday, August 05, 2004


Here is an interesting story. The owner of a PR firm in Minneapolis is also an anchorwoman on a local TV news program (KSTP-TV, channel 5). Doesn't that strike you as a dubious crossing of the line between PR and journalism? The anchorwoman says she is no longer active in the PR business, but she is apparently still the owner. How do you say "conflict?"

This is the first time of which I am aware where journalism and PR have mixed so closely. To be fair to the anchorwoman, she had begun as an anchor at the station, left to be a press secretary to a former governor, started her own firm and finally, returned to anchoring. Still, how does one handle stories about clients, or does she pretend that she doesn't know who her clients are?

The situation is dubious at best, and I wouldn't be surprised if local journalists are suspicious. They should be. There is a manifest conflict of interest that cannot be explained away except by leaving the anchor position or the PR business. It strikes at the one quality that both journalists and PR practitioners need -- credibility.

I believe PR practitioners should be close to the media. But, not that close.


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