JOURNALISM HAS A PR PROBLEM
One of the concerns around the dropping ad revenue is the quality of journalism and NBR publisher Todd Scott sees the stress on journalists being a great opportunity for PR practitioners. Around the discounted ads, he says space is increasingly being filled by content supplied by PR, and that’s not news. “News is what no one else wants us to write about their company, everything else is advertising.” His concern is “sometimes you can’t tell it’s PR fluff ” and it’s not the audience’s job to be discerning. “On the odd occasion we get approached by a PR company to provide a copy of an article we wrote so they can share it on their website, that to me says we failed our readers.” And while Scott admits he puts pressure on his editorial team to deal with fewer PR people and deal directly with CEOS and CFOS, the challenge to do so becomes clear when considering the ratio of journalists to PR practitioners. According to 2013 census data, 3,510 New Zealanders worked as public relations professionals compared to the 1,170 who worked in print, radio and television journalism. And that gap is only getting bigger: in 2006, there were 2,247 public relations professionals and 2,214 journalists. “There is disproportionately far too few journalists and far too many spin doctors in New Zealand,” Scott says. Not helping the situation is the number of journalists moving into corporates' PR divisions and Scott believes the money is a massive drawcard. “I imagine for a lot of the journalists they went to the dark side to get paid more money, which I understand. I doubt there are many journalists in Auckland that own a house, I bet there are more PR people that own houses in Auckland than there are journalists.” According to the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, print and radio journalists can receive $30,000$80,000 a year, depending on the size of the organisation and television journalists can start on $30,000 to $45,000 a year, and those with experience can earn more than $80,000 a year. Meanwhile, according to the 2016 Research First PRINZ Survey Q3 report, in 2016 the median income for PR professionals was estimated to be around $85,000-$99,000. In their first five years of work, PR professionals should expect to earn $35,000-$65,000.