PR survey claims journalists now less trustworthy

Spin-doctors have accused journalists of “sexing-up” stories and being less trustworthy than they used to be, according to a new survey of PRs.

Some 54 per cent of those asked said they found journalists less balanced when reporting controversial subjects than five years ago. Only 24 per cent thought they were more balanced. The survey also found that 48 per cent of PRs would be less willing to trust a journalist with off-the-record material than five years ago. This compares with 12 per cent who would be more willing. More than half – 56 per cent – said they thought journalists were more likely to make the facts fit a predetermined storyline, with 28 per cent saying they were less likely to.

Media Training Associates – a consultancy offering tuition to companies dealing with the press – telephoned 50 PR agencies over the course of the last month to conduct its survey.

On the positive side, 38 per cent of PRs asked said they found journalists more knowledgeable than five years ago, compared with 14 per cent who thought they were less so. And 30 per cent said journalists were more accurate than five years ago compared with 18 per cent who said they were less.

Course director Tom Maddocks said: “Journalists are under more pressure than ever to come out with strong storylines and more exclusives. “Sometimes information, given in good faith to a journalist, can be interpreted to its limits and beyond. It is more necessary than ever for people in organisations who are entrusted with handling the media to be aware of how the journalist’s agenda works and to ensure that their point of view comes across clearly and cannot be misrepresented or ‘sexed-up’.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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