Are the mainstream media’s methods turning counter productive?

November 15, 2006

Interesting article in Bulldog Reporter on criticism about the mainstream media’s addiction to reporting violence and using shock value to build and hold audiences. As anyone who has heard me speak or read my books or this blog for long knows that a central tenet of my position is that organizational communicators today have a particularly difficult time because of what I call “infotainment.” That is, their organizations simply become a tool to be used by media outlets to tell gripping stories in dramatic fashion, normally using the melodrama formula. Where an executive thinks he or she may be going into a media interview to provide “the facts” they don’t realize that the reporter and camera crew have a very different job. They are simply there to gather the material they need to fill out the “white hats” vs “black hats” story that they have already firmly in mind. You just need to cooperate by giving them the admissions, denials, or uncomfortable looks that they desire.

Sure, that is simplification, but to make an important point. And that is that after “60 Minutes” invaded prime time with “news”, journalism got to be a lot more about entertainment. Now, the lines between news, and “reality” and entertainment are completely blurred. It’s in this environment that companies under public scrutiny are trying to protect and enhance their reputations. Very challenging.

The same issue of Bulldog Reporter reports on the growing prominence of blogs. Altogether, an interestisng contrast.

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