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Trufleman
Lloyd P. Trufelman is president of Trylon SMR , New York, which he established in 1990. He has held PR posts at MTV Networks, Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, WNYC AM/FM, Howard J. Rubenstein Associates and CBS Masterworks. He is a graduate of The American University School of Comms.

 

 

Feb. 25, 2008

PR INDUSTRY MUST SHOW CONCERN
FOR MURDERED JOURNALISTS

 

Record numbers of journalists are being assaulted and murdered worldwide but I see no interest in this by any PR group although there would be no such thing as PR without journalists.

Where is the sympathy of PR people? The Committee to Protect Journalists lists its contributors but none are PR organizations.

CPJ, based in New York (http://www.cpj.org) found that at least 65 journalists were killed around the world in 2007 because of their work.

This was the highest total in13 years and compared with 56 killed in 2006. 
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (http://www.rsf.org) figured 86 journalists were killed last year.

Overall about 1,000 news media personnel worldwide have been killed trying to report the news over the past 10 years, or about two deaths each week, according to The International News Safety Institute (http://www.newssafety.com).

Half of Fatalities in Iraq


Committee to Protect Journailsts monitors attacks on the press.

Last year, nearly half of the fatalities were in Iraq.

The second deadliest country was Somalia, with seven deaths. Five died in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, two in Afghanistan and Eritrea and one in Haiti, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nepal, the Palestinian territories, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, Turkey, the United States and Zimbabwe. 

The CPJ said seven in ten journalist deaths are murders, with the others due to combat cross-fire. 

About 85 percent of the killings went unpunished.

Journalists Criticize Establishment

Why were these journalists murdered? Their coverage was considered criticism by various establishments who did not want professional, objective reporting.

How did the killers get away with it? CPJ found that governments are “less willing, less proactive, less courageous in defending the freedom of information around the globe."

For some governments who find killing to be too alarming, there were other ways of containing the media.

For the ninth straight year China was the world's leading jailer of journalists, with 29 in prison, despite that nation’s 2001 promise of more press freedom to the International Olympic Committee.

PR Pros Have Stake in This

Why should this be of concern to PR professionals?  Even in an emerging era of client-generated content, there would be no PR without journalists, no legitimate new or mainstream media with credibility.


Nigerian journalist Sunday Dare, a Harvard Neiman Fellow, wrote this column for the Feb. 19, 2001 USA Today.

When pitching new business, PR firms proudly showcase the success of their placement record and tout the extent of their relationships with the press.

So considering the dangers that the media face in doing their jobs, where is where is the sympathy of PR people? The PR industry needs to show greater interest in journalists as dedicated professional human beings and not just people who are vehicles for placement pitches.

Media Pressure Is Wrong

Pressuring journalists can be counterproductive in the long run, whether it’s pulling advertising, lying to a reporter, or firing a bullet to influence coverage. 

At stake is the future of freedom and democracy.  The media are an effective mechanism for keeping societal organizations accountable.

Investigative work and day-to day reporting routinely uncover corruption, human rights violations, conflicts of interest and other obstacles to a healthy society or well-managed corporation.

Though not always 100% accurate, media coverage more often than not can result in governmental hearings, legislation and regulation; increased scrutiny of institutions by the public and shareholders as well as a steady stream of new ideas, business developments and other informed information about timely local, national and global trends.

Yet without support, reporters who are often literally in the trenches on the front lines of the battle for accuracy and accountability will not be able to prevent governments and other institutions from reverting to bad habits such as scand­als, inappropriate behavior and repression.

Judea Pearl, writing in The Wall Street Journal last month on the sixth anniversary of the murder of his son reporter Daniel Pearl, said that the reason that the case is considered an icon of the modern times was because “he was a journalist, and journalists, more than any other professionals, represent the strength, beauty and vulnerability of an open society. When an unarmed journalist is killed, we are reminded of both the freedoms that we treasure in our society, and how vulnerable we all are to forces that threaten those freedoms.”

Our firm is a financial supporter of the CPJ, the Fund for Investigative Journalism and other such groups.  As a mid-sized small firm our contributions are modest, but if others in the PR profession routinely and pro-actively supported these organizations it would surely be appreciated by the colleagues and families of murdered and injured journalists.

In addition, we would all benefit professionally and personally by tangibly supporting our colleagues in the press in their attempt to fulfill their mission as international guardians of integrity and accountability in a world that requires constant vigilance.

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Lloyd P. Trufelman is president of Trylon SMR , New York, which he established in 1990. He has held PR posts at MTV Networks, Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, WNYC AM/FM, Howard J. Rubenstein Associates and CBS Masterworks. He is a graduate of The American University School of Comms.