TechCrunch is the latest publication to play the tired narrative that the public relations industry is behind the woes of modern day journalism, GMOs and global warming.
In the latest bullish show from TechCrunch, Alex Wilhelm looks into the camera, laments the state of the journalism and recites these “horrifying” statistics:
- There are 4.6 PR professionals for every journalist
- PR professionals make 35 percent more in pay than journalists, a gap that isn’t shrinking.
I suspect Mr. Wilhelm’s crack research skills using Google turned up the Washington Post article, “Why the PR industry is sucking up Pulitzer winners” and the Pew piece, “The growing pay gap between journalism and public relations,” which served up these charts:I admire journalists and their ability to observe, report and even make sense of complexity. I’ve pointed out that best business storytelling on the planet comes from journalists.
Yet, these qualities can come into question when they cover their own profession.
Let’s start with the fact that PR professionals outnumber journalists by a wide margin. What sinister actions from the PR profession have undermined demand for journalists?
Consider the job growth for the two professions that precedes the Washington Post data, covering 1997 to 2004 (Occupational Employment and Wages data that only goes back to ’97) in the chart below. Thanks to the wonders of data visualization, we can see the business of journalism as flat while PR appears to be a growth industry. Could it be that this little thing called the Internet has swung a wrecking ball through the business of journalism while PR has actually benefited from the Internet?
As for the pay disparity, while both professions share some basic skills, they’re distinctively different jobs with the wonders of capitalism placing more value on one over the other. Of course, you can go down the path of judging society with questions like why does a high school English teacher with the oratory skills of Winston Churchill and 20 years of experience make less than an Objective-C app coder?
Maybe I’ll tackle such deep questions in another post.
In the meantime, you can watch the TechCrunch interview here.