Yahoo Says PR Is Replacing Journalists. Wait, What?

Most journalists are highly skilled at what they do — research, reporting, writing and telling an intriguing story to the public. They represent both sides of a story without bias. They are able to see angles to a story that help educate and inform in a tangible way. Some went to school for journalism. Others went to school for English.

In short, they all know what they are doing and how do it.

So, how strange would it be if PR took over the news world? Very. According to Yahoo! Education, there are five jobs “nearing extinction” due to a combination of outlying reasons and other professions that “will take [their] place.” 

Yep, you guessed it. And you can probably guess how we feel about it too. More after the jump…

First, Yahoo’s rationale about hacks being replaced by flacks: DYK that PR jobs are expected to jump 23 percent from 2010-2020, while journalism jobs are expected to fall eight percent? Granted, there is no proof of correlation there, but Yahoo continues to light the bombshell that “PR specialists will replace reporters sometime in the near future.”

Nick Gidwani, founder of online education site SkilledUp, had this to say in his attempt to connect the dots:

The raw proliferation of media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, in addition to the typical news outlets, has made the job of the PR specialist that much more difficult. As a result, PR is one area that is really growing.

Yes, social media is everywhere. Yes, being in PR is much more difficult that most people think. Yes, this profession is growing (Thank God). But will PR actually replace journalism? I call bullsh. Gidwani explained why:

The real driving force, however, has been the Internet, where millions of amateur reporters blog for free, hundreds of sites copy, aggregate, and curate other people’s content (often without due credit), and millions of millennials have learned to get their news from alternative sources, such as Twitter.

Millennials get their news from sources … which are largely called journalists. What? Some fool clutching a Twinkie is reporting political relations in North Korea? Hell no. He is making jokey jokes about the leader’s funny name—and that’s about it.

Imagine that one windbag in your office sucking up to the boss: he can’t write a coherent sentence but insists they understand “copywriting,” he has more of a flair for backstabbing than sticking to a good story, and he hasn’t earned a hit in the past two month … yeah, that person. You think he or she could replace Walter Cronkite or even your local beat reporter covering traffic? Nope. Not a chance. 

Despite the fact that we’ve published listicles (written with tongue firmly planted in cheek) about what PR people do to piss off the media or what media people do to piss off PR people, we want them on that wall … we need them on that wall … and most of us love them on that wall.

(Which, BTW, grow some skin and have a cup of shut up, people who get soooo offended by those lists. It’s called satire. Sorry those lists don’t come with a preface for your sensitive feelings. We’ll do better. Promise.)

Most of the good flacks in this profession couldn’t work an overnight beat reporter’s job if they tried. I am a proud hack-turned-flack, and I know. Much like the universe (specifically, our parents) don’t understand what we do, the majority of flacks don’t really comprehend what goes into a reporter’s job.

In short, there is no way PR is going to replace journalists. If anything, we should be working closer together instead of holding a grudge for that one idiot who bruised your ego in the newsroom or that other idiot who demanded you tell their client’s “story” about an egg beater that is going to revolutionize kitchens everywhere.

Flacks should take time to understand all the details of journalism instead of bragging about their status as “AP-style taskmasters”; we should take time to get to know local journalists. (You may be shocked at what you will discover, readers.)

Who knows? Maybe some appreciation would be in store as well. Maybe.