The Parasitic Newspaper Industry must stop leaching off PR

Inspired by Brian Mitchell

Dear Editor

The parasitic nature of newspapers continues to confound most reasonable public relations (PR) professionals. Here we have an industry that by its very nature trades off the hard work of the PR industry, passing off our hard work as news, even when we don’t ask them to.

Some 80 per cent of news stories in the quality UK national newspapers are at least partly made up of recycled newswire or PR copy, according to research released in February. In Australia the figure is “as much as 80 per cent of media content is derived from public relations material” according to a May 2009 report.

This has to stop. The livelihoods of PR professionals across the globe are under threat by a parasitic newspaper industry that rarely links, and often copies our work.

This content is available on sites such as PR Web, and often on the pages of our clients. Why then must the likes of News Corp, the NY Times Company, or other newspaper groups steal our good work?

The future of PR is undoubtedly online: the distributed media release has had its day; resource-wasteful, expensive to produce and distribute and dated. We should charge for access, and slap copyrights even on a short extract (fair use and fair dealing laws mean nothing to our lawyers) because we are the originators of news, and we alone hold the eminent rights to it.

That we could do something as simple as exclude indexing by newspaper sites by one line in a Robots.txt file, or a general IP block for newspaper companies is besides the point: just because we could block access doesn’t mean that we should do so now.

I implore President Obama and others to think not only of the newspaper industry at this time of need, but of the PR professionals that have their work stolen en masse by greedy parasitic journalists.

Yours sincerely
PR Pro.

This is somewhat tongue in check naturally, but at a time that Mitchell in Australia, and media reps (including the head of AP) in the United States are making outrageous claims about new media, it should be noted that little of what they report is originally sourced themselves.

For the record, as someone who has worked for one of the biggest blogs online, co founded a multi-million dollar blog network, and more recently founded this site, while some of our content is undoubtedly uncovered by the mainstream media, a lot of it is directly sourced or via PR pros. When I was at TechCrunch for example, the whole 80% PR thing would have most definitely have held true, as I’m betting it would for many professional blogs. That we don’t do more of that content on The Inquisitr is not because we don’t receive it, indeed I could fill 20 posts a day at a minimum here with the PR we receive, instead we’re more picky on what we like. And that’s before we even start on the fact that there are a ton of online only sites doing original reporting, from TMZ, through to even The Huffington Post and more.

Duncan.