Neville Hobson issues a rallying cry to cut out the middleman:
...most PRs and journalists add little value to truth-telling if they’re nothing more than channels or conduits who distort and manipulate the original message. Assuming, of course, that their roles are to do with truth-telling.
If you want to get close to the truth, cut out the middlemen. Let the citizens make up their own minds as to what is truth.
I'm afraid I let rip in the comments and reproduce what I said below. The reference to David Miliband is because Neville praises him for speaking directly to the public. Here goes:
Many journalists and many PRs are trying to do an honest job of finding benefits for readers and checking that they're not being sold a pup by the originating organisation. Ultimately, win-win, is ideal but, if through fact-checking, one side loses then so be it. That is the job of the professional journalist.
Miliband's blogging doesn't prove a thing, except that he's willing to expose himself slightly. If my memory serves me correctly, he's filtering comments so he's still in control of both what he chooses to say and what feedback he chooses to publish.
I think the idea of Joe Public cutting out the middleman is idealistic. It might work in rare cases, when an employee (or a boss) happens to write the absolute truth. It might work if enough knowledgeable people were talking about a particular subject (wisdom of crowds) but you're putting a huge burden on the public. How much time have they got to properly fact-check everything?
So then we come to bloggers. It's less about cutting out the middleman and more about inserting a different middleman. Full of their own views, biases and abilities (or not) to conduct appropriate research.
At least PR and journalists are paid to surface what each deems important. Some 'journalists' are supine and accept what's offered. They're not journalists, they're message-takers. They're the people who PR go to when they have dodgy material to push out. Most good journalists avoid PR, or use them as providers of background material which is still checked, and seek the real stories directly, and validate from multiple sources.
Mr Joe Public can't do this. The average blogger can't do this.
In the end, to have time for any kind of life, we have to trust the people who have better access to information and the ability to synopsise it appropriately. Some will trust journalists, some will trust bloggers, some will even trust companies and organisations.
End of rant.