Today’s Editorial for February 19: Journalism and public relations

There has been, in our view,
something of a misperception of the news business for many years in the Cayman
Islands; about what its job is, and why it does what it does

Since we at the Caymanian Compass
are in the news business, we must bear at least some responsibility for this
and should take some steps to correct the misperception.  

It is not the job of the journalist
reporting the story, or the editor who reviews it, to determine whether that
story will be perceived as positive or negative.

This is the job of public relations
professionals who look at what has been reported and then analyse how the story
will be perceived. Those PR people who wish to put their positive spin on
things are often well-served by responding to journalists’ phone calls prior to
a story being written.   

A journalist should merely concern himself
or herself with whether the facts stated in a story are accurate and whether
the direct quotes presented are a fair and accurate representation of what the
person being quoted said.

An editor should then peruse the
story to make sure it is understandable, readable, and fairly presented; as
well as correcting any other errors in the copy they might find.

The process does not always work
perfectly. Indeed, we are all too aware of some rather embarrassing howlers
that have appeared in our own pages over the years. Journalists are people;
editors are people; and people make mistakes. Computer programmes cannot write
news stories, at least not yet anyway.

We can understand why residents in
the Cayman Islands are confused about why journalists often don’t write
positive stories, since some local media companies act as quasi-PR outlets and
sell the pages of their news product or on-line website as a public relations
strategy as well as a news service.

That, good readers, is not
journalism in any case and should never be considered as such.