PR is “deader than the journalistic trade”: Mike Magee


Mike Magee, founder of The Inquirer, co-founder of The Register and one time editor of PC Business World, has penned a rather amusing departing shot from Incisive Media. In a self described “final act of ennui”, he gives us the definitive Guide to Modern 21st Century Journalism.

He has seven rules for the budding tech hack (reproduced in full below). As Peter Kirwan says, it’s a sensible rant against Google-driven hackery.

Rule 1 did get me thinking though:

Totally ignore PRs. The PR profession is deader than the journalistic trade. What place is there for an agency PR person when all the vendors throw up press releases instantly copied by serried ranks of “data gatherers” so cutting out the middle bunnies?

Amidst the satire, there is a serious point about the role of a PR agency today. Clearly there is a role to be played, but it almost certainly doesn’t resemble the PR stereotype of yesteryear. Sadly for Mike, it will involve knowledge of SEO, analytics, etc – but should still include the basics of good content skills and media relationship talent. And personally speaking, I don’t see why booze needs to be cut out of the equation.

Finally, as Intel and AMD’s PR departments break open the champagne, Mike says he will be “at his wit’s end at the end of the month at what to do”. I think the Coach and Horses beckons – for old time’s sake.

Those rules in full:

Rule 1 Totally ignore PRs. The PR profession is deader than the journalistic trade. What place is there for an agency PR person when all the vendors throw up press releases instantly copied by serried ranks of “data gatherers” so cutting out the middle bunnies?

Rule 2 A Modern Journalist never leaves the office, never has a drink, unless it’s a non-alcoholic Pimms, never double checks a story, never takes a chance, and has a pathological fear of a telephone unless the Health and Safety Inspectors clean the mouthpiece and earpiece every morning before the tidy world begins.

Rule 3 Google is the robotic news editor which rules the roost towards the end of the first decade of the 21st century. A Modern Journalist can do nothing except spur Adsense sales by endlessly re-writing stories that appear on Google News, which may never have actually been broken by anyone but first processed by the more important class of “data gatherers” who get early access to the er, press release.

Rule 4 The Modern Journalist never “breaks a story”. That would court the ire of the serried ranks of news management spinners and would breach Rule 2 to boot. Plus, even if a story fell into her or his hands, it would have to be “gathered” and then “processed” through the serried ranks of lawyers who act as an expensive filter to ensure that no boat is rocked.

Rule 5 The Modern Journalist must have gone to “journalist school”, where she or he will be taught all the tricks of the trade, such as sitting in serried ranks, never going out, never using the phone, re-cyling the endlessly re-cycled, and shamelessly cohorting with legions of other “professionals” such as people that went to “PR school” and those that drink non-alcoholic Pimms. They must be taking other stuff to get them high, surely? An old-fashioned hack would never do that. We think.

Rule 6 Show your adherence to 21st Modern Journalism standards by mouthing marketing slogans in your copy at every turn. If you have a news editor, and she or he wants you to “break stories”, complain through levels of the organisation that you’re being pressured and abused because she or he is complaining that you’re just recycling either press releases or re-cycled chunks from Google News.

Rule 7 Make sure you ignore this so 20th century saying: “You cannot hope To bribe or twist, thank God! the British journalist. But seeing what The man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to. – Humbert Wolfe, Over the Fire” Accept bribes gracefully.

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Comments

  1. One of your tags is humor, but there’s a lot of truth in what you’re saying. I don’t think the journalistic trade is dead, though – just going through a transformation. When the world gets sick of the so-called citizen journalists out there who can neither spell, write a coherent sentence or do basic research, they’ll go crying for some real information they can trust again. As long as there is a desire for truth, there will be a demand for people who can deliver it – in whatever form it takes.

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  2. Andrew Bruce Smith says:

    I firmly believe humour and truth can happily co-exist 😉

    And you are right – both journalism and PR are not dead – we are going through a transformation (see my latest post re: Guy Clapperton) – which brings uncertainty – and that tends to make people unhappy/pessimistic.

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  3. thomasxstewart. says:

    Mike continues intresting self emplyment. actually moving to Intel factory where next generation of Nehalem, 2.4 billion tranistor cpu are being developed in Banglore, India. that task completed, Mike started writing TG Guide. Play on initials, TG, yet quality of insight is significantly above any of todays other computing journalist.

    I continue to Rant & pick pieces up from cutting room floor & selling them just outside front door in Commentos section of theINQ. Its So Personable.

    Signed:PHYSICIAN THOMAS STEWART von DRASHEK M.D.

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