The dark side of media isn’t so bad

The dark side of media isn’t so bad

By Dominic Jeff
The move from journalism to PR is such a well-trodden path that newspaper reporters have developed a slang term for it: “going over to the dark side”.


It’s safe to say, having just made the move, that this phrase encompasses a certain sense of moral superiority which members of the fourth estate still cling to despite the tarnishing of their already lacklustre reputation by the scandals of recent years.

To be fair to my former colleagues, the profession has never been without its sense of humour and the jibes aimed at anyone known to be planning the move to PR are generally meant in good spirit. Indeed, as the headcount on the average newspaper has been shrinking at an alarming rate for well over a decade, editors and reporters these days would struggle to fill their pages if some of the copy did not arrive in an almost ready-to-use format, and stories were not presented to them as a tailor-made opportunity.

So it’s been no surprise to me that since starting to work with Muckle Media two weeks ago, I’ve been writing more original copy than in my latter days on The Scotsman, where I more often than not had some sort of text to work from when starting a story. It’s been nice to get the creative juices flowing again.

Of course, many have pointed to the shift in power that is implicit in having those who can afford PR agencies choose the stories to be run in newspapers. However, in practice things are not so sinister as most people engage PR because they have something positive to say. By and large, the stories are still good stories too – what local newspaper wouldn’t want to feature a visit to their town or county by V&A Dundee’s first touring exhibition, for example? Design in Motion is one of the accounts I’ve been working on and I won’t feel like a manipulative spin doctor if a few more people go and see this excellent little collection of Scottish design innovation on its tour of towns and cities north of the Border.

On the flip side, good journalists have adapted to the current state of play and have learned to sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of what they are being pitched. There are still plenty of good journalists out there, so if I do morph into a manipulative villain, I’m sure my former colleagues will be quick to point it out – in the most unflattering of terms.