How Relevant is the Media?

In hearing that both sides in the Israeli raid on the flotilla headed to Gaza had video cameras at ready to record the action just strengthens my belief that the importance of mainstream media is becoming dwarfed by the action of taking one’s case directly to the people. Today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a statement about the incident and a newly edited video of the incident (complete with interviews and music) on his Facebook page (31,260 fans). Who knows if any of these grainy videos can actually get to the truth of the matter. The point is, given the potency and immediacy of social media platforms, the traditi0nal media has less to do with the shaping of public opinion than ever before. Do you agree? I’m hoping to get opinions on this topic from PR executives and members of the media at the PR News Media Relations Forum on June 17. I’ll let you know what I find out.

–Scott Van Camp

  • Clay

    The problem and the benefits, as I see them actually stem from the same thing – control of content.

    In each case, each side in the raid has video that it can “spin” to suit its own PR needs. I’m not sure that either side convinced any supporters of their opponents to switch their support.

    Now there is great value in being able to see an incident, an action, a government meeting or whatnot for yourself. It would actually be the ultimate in reporting. But there is still something missing.

    What’s missing are things like context, background and understanding, which only reporting and analysis can provide. You can look at the raw footage all day long, but that footage does not tell you why the Israeli’s conducted the raid. It doesn’t tell you why the flotilla was attempting to bypass a blockade. It doesn’t address the needs or concerns of the Palestinians or the political situation and background that led up to the incident.

    These things can only be provided by reporting.

    And while immediacy is important, it loses its value as an aspect of reporting or journalism when the video is uploaded with immediacy through social media but is being used as propaganda – which I believe is the case with both the Palestinians and Israelis. That is not journalism.

    That said, social media is a very strong reporting tool. This is being demonstrated over and over – recently in the flooding in Nashville, during which local media used social media to gain additional information, photos, videos, etc., particularly in places they physically could not access.

    Social media is a powerful tool and the controls an individual can exert over it can easily be manipulated to sway public opinion. That’s great for practitioners of PR, and illustrates a greater need than ever for journalism and traditional media, which must retain its journalism values and standards, and utilize social media itself to reach more people.

  • Brenda

    I agree with Clay. While social media has become a great resource for the general public – and opinion – I think it’s still recognized as “subjective” and not necessarily accepted as the “truth.” The only exceptions to that would be the personal opinions of those who might be viewing the videos and statements of others – i.e., the followers. Those comments may go viral and are often seen as more truthful by the general public. Even though they are only opinions, they carry a lot of weight.

    Although I believe social media is becoming a great resource for accessing both subjective and objective information, I also believe traditional media has an ethical role to portray the facts objectively. Granted, that’s not always the case, but that’s the way my journalism professors taught me to write. And that’s still my goal as Director of Public Relations.

    That said, I think we can all probably agree that both types of media have a strong impact on public opinion… and that people are looking to both avenues for information so that they can come to their own understanding. At least, it’s my hope that those opinions are based not just on subjective thoughts, videos and comments posted on social media sites, but on the more objective, traditional media sites as well.