Why Media Scrutiny is Good

May 17th, 2015 | By | Category: Israel, News, Public relations

Election season is finally over in the UK and Israel. A government (for good or for bad) has been sworn in here and the real work will now begin (we can only hope). Across the Atlantic however, it is only just beginning and if Israel is any indication – a lot of ugly rumors, negative publicity and bad press is to be expected.

The media hounded the leading candidates – and rightly so. It brought up past mistakes, both political and personal on all parties involved and showed them no mercy. One journalist, Anshel Pfeffer, wrote in Haaretz, of Isaac Herzog’s collaboration with Tzipi Livni “And there’s no bigger freier than the pale-faced limp-wristed Ashkenazi intellectual arriving in the Levant without any street-smarts.” Widely publicized, another case the media jumped on was the “bottlegate” affair of Sara Netanyahu, the Prime Minister’s wife, and how she ran her household and treated her staff. The list goes on and on.

Leaving politics aside, we see media scrutiny in other areas.  Celebrities are well-known for being showcased in the media and constantly analyzed. The British Royal Family is a case in point, especially when a new princess is born. The public lap up this kind of publicity, as “the story sells” – the public crave an “escapism” distraction from their ordinary lives.

Stepping into the real-world however, scrutiny can actually be the best thing, especially for the public. One recent example is the “Deflategate” episode, which investigated footballs used in the AFC Championship Game on January 18, 2015. The report revealed that Tom Brady and a few other people working with the New England Patriots had balls deflated to pressure lower than the league allows for in a game.  In more local news a video went viral of cops beating an Ethiopian soldier, resulting in media scrutiny of police brutality and bad behavior, culminating in mass-country-wide demonstrations against racism and discrimination.

The lesson to be learned from this is that leaders, organizations, sports teams, influencers and even emergency personnel and rescue services must understand they are accountable for bad behavior. No one is immune and not one person is above the law – not even presidents and prime ministers. It kind of reminds me of a teacher telling off a young student for a misdeed, only these misdeeds can be extremely costly to the country, public and even world economies.

This lesson is only reinforced when one considers media scrutiny coupled with today’s digital and viral nature where the public and the source being sometimes the same thing. Gone are the days of the crisis manager worrying only about the print and electronic media. Today the media is everywhere; in everyone’s hands.  And it is immediate.

So where does that leave the public relations professional?

Back to the original principles of public relations.  This entails proactive communications, honesty, and very importantly, no whitewashing. The PR manager carries the responsibilities of the entire organization it represents. It demands the nature of information remain transparent and the role of PR true to its objective. Portraying a positive image does not mean covering up bad judgments. It is another way of ensuring people behave in an orderly, honest and open fashion.

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