16 August 2014

PR tops journalism in U.S.

If Americans often seem uninformed or misinformed about current affairs, it may be because they get more propaganda than news. There are now five times as many public relations experts at work in the U.S. than reporters. Furthermore, the difference is growing. While the number of reporters in the country dropped by almost 9,000 from 2004 to 2013, the number of PR experts increased by over 36,000. The PR people are also better paid, on average 25 per cent more, and the income gap, too, is growing.

As a result, Americans get increasingly more of their information from press releases rather than from news reporting and often this material isn't vetted or contextualized. A study by the Pew Research Center on the 2012 presidential election coverage reported "how journalists in that campaign often functioned as megaphones for political partisans."

For young Americans seeking a lucrative career, the best advice would seem to be choose propaganda over news. Both the pay and the prospects are much better. A University of Georgia study found that graduates entering public relations earned about $5,000 more than those starting at daily papers and $6,000 more than those working in TV. The prospects for a well-informed American public are not quite as promising.

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