Two weeks was enough for me to see how much PR and propaganda make up a newspaper — nearly everything.
A school official I talked to today was shocked that I presented information not in a press release but known throughout the school community. “How did you know that information?” he said. “This is a non-story.”
Hospitals and schools, my primary coverage areas, hate information they can’t control. I don’t see how they view themselves as prima facie public relations agents. Schools especially are run entirely by public servants, even if those in positions are not elected.
Often a public relations statement makes information less congested if there are numerous media and hopefully lessens the probability of an error. But I have yet to see a negative public relations statement.
The former dean of my journalism school had wanted to rearrange our newspaper, magazine, television, film, radio, and public relations majors into three areas:
It seems the last category is as simple as the following: exaggerate the good and spin the bad. But I don’t see how teachers, sometimes referred to as mandated reporters, get to decide which category they are in.
FERPA allows school staff to blur these distinctions and abuse student privacy laws. FERPA does not allow an administrator to shut off information about an incident involving public money. Nor does identifying the repercussion of students or the number involved infringe on their privacy. Taxpayers should not allow school staff to get away with such arguments.
I’d rather dig for information than rely on a steady supply of persuasion coming to me.
For more on this topic, Noam Chomsky’s “Manufactured Consent” goes deeper than this post. You can do that right now, though, too — tell me your thoughts.