Let the reader beware
A Taipei Times opinion piece published on Wednesday titled “Taiwanese media help China with propaganda” by Tommy Lin (林逸民) once more shines a bright light on the ethical responsibilities of communicators on both sides of the equation — journalists and publicists. The public turns to its preferred media outlets for clarification of the day’s events, and the media, rightfully so, turn to publicists for that information as well, but here is where the difference lies.
The general public, by and large, often do not have the ability to sift through reams of news releases and other documents to gather relevant facts. The media, on the other hand, for the most part do. It becomes their responsibility to gather the information, sift through it for applicable facts from all sides of the discussion and compile their analysis into an unbiased report.
Yes, this requires more work, which requires more time, but it ensures that what the public reads/sees/hears is a balanced account from which each individual can draw his or her own conclusion.
Let us hope that this will remain the goal, both of publicists and journalists: Fair and accurate dissemination of news that benefits the public and democracy.
Chair of the Board of Ethics and Professional Standards at the Public Relations Society of America
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