Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The blurred line between journalism and PR

This item was buried on Page B2 of Wednesday's Stockton Record.

It's about the chief of the Record's Lodi Bureau of 9 years and 20-year newspaper veteran, Jeff Hood, accepting a job as the city of Lodi's first spin czar (what they call a spokesman).

It makes me wonder if Mr. Hood wasn't getting too chummy with city officials while he was working in Lodi. It's not unheard of for journalists to get into public relations or visa versa, but this switch — from one who covers an organization to one who runs interference for that same organization — strikes me as a little incestuous.

Not to impugn Mr. Hood's integrity without knowing the true reasons and circumstances surrounding his move, but moves like this don't help journalists already struggling to assure the public that they are independent reporters of truth who don't get too close or friendly with sources.

As more and more people — and news organizations — mistake press releases and spin for reporting and truth, the line between journalism and public relations becomes blurred. And when former journalists start working for the folks they once were supposed to bring to task, that line gets even more blurry.


Anonymous said...

Sort of like Tracy Press Publisher Bob Matthews being joined at the him with Souza and Serpa?

Jeff said...

Not to impugn your integrity, but it's interesting to read your non-journalistic speculation. Let me fill you in with some reader comments to the Lodi News-Sentinel story on me going to the city:

Aunt Bernice wrote on April 25, 2007 5:21 PM:
"Smooth move Blair! Killed two birds with one stone. Jeff won't be doing anymore exposes on questionable City deals and the Lodi paper won't have to print the news the next day."

T $ C to psycho wrote on April 25, 2007 3:47 PM:"It seems as if you have a problem with Jeff Hood being an honest and qualified person for this job, you should take it up with him, not me. Maybe the Record is planting him as a spy to shake down the corruption in this little town, mayor pschyo? LOL Jeff has been the only reporter to tell it like it is about Lodi, while the two stooges at LNS only print the sweet stuff. He's just going to be a spokesman and I don't think the "blairbot" will really welcome him. "

Psychologist wrote on April 25, 2007 12:48 PM:"T&C,I want you to sit back a breathe deeply after reading this article. I know you admire and have referred to Mr. Hood as the only writer who really knows what's going on in this town. I don't want you to view this as going to the "dark side" or becoming one of the "good ol boyz". He's a good man making a decision in what he believes is in his best interest.

And this from that Record story you mention:

LodianApril 25, 2007 12:55 PM
Does this mean we will no longer get the real scoop on what going on in Lodi? With Hood on the Lodi payroll, things may change. I sure enjoyed getting the REAL story from Jeff's articles. I think that will change now.

eyewhitieApril 25, 2007 06:48 AM
You go Jeff! Just watch out for the "blairbot" and Hitchcock. Maybe you can also get some inside information on the dirty dealings that are going on with Delta College and the city council corruption.