Saturday, February 11, 2012

A reporter lost amidst public Relations practitioners

Sometimes we have to look back before we know where we are going. Other times, we are in neutral patterns, either because circumstances prevent us from forging ahead, or because we have internalized a problem or a situation to the point that we make it difficult on ourselves to move forwards.

Then there are times when we know where we need to go, and we have to make a detour, like when you are on a long road trip and you have to stop at one of those isolated rest stops.

I am not sure if my analogies make much sense, but right now I have been where I surmise a lot of reporters might be or where a lot seem to end up: I am doing what's essentially public relations work, but I am still basically a reporter by trade.

For me it's sort of means to an end, in this transforming journalistic landscape, I had to make a choice when an opportunity presented itself. Whereas at this same time last Spring I was putting my heart, body and soul into my freelancing work, this season I am working at the office of external relations for one of our areas major community colleges. I have a lot to learn!

When I was in college, I was a member of my school's PRSSA, Public Relations Society Student Association. My thought was that joining said organization, though I had no desire to go into a career in P.R., would be beneficial towards better understanding the symbiotic, and often adversarial relationship between PR practitioners and journalists. They co-exist in a media rich world and both work hand in hand in many occasions.

This week I started a job where the skills set I already possess as a reporter come in handy on a daily basis. Moreover, it will prove to be a valuable networking experience since I will come into contact with media professionals on a routine basis.

As I sat at my desk yesterday, set up my new e-mail address, and familiarized myself more with the inner workings of the job, I also wondered, how many of us relocated, displaced journalists or those who have crossed over into the Public Relations arena are out there?

My current supervisor is a former journalist herself.

So this is but a detour, a pit stop if you will. I will be back filing stories and worrying about deadlines soon enough.

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