03/03/2015 08:48 am ET Updated Mar 03, 2015

Eric Alterman: PR Is Killing Journalism

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In a speech to colleagues not long ago, BBC News Economics Editor Robert Peston explained that while “some of [his] best friends are in PR,” nevertheless he has “never been in any doubt that PRs are the enemy.”

The conflict seems clear. The task of the journalist is “to give the news impartially, without fear or favor,” to borrow from the goal set forth for The New York Times after Arthur Ochs purchased it in 1896. Public relations is the business, in the words of a pioneer in the field, U.S. government propagandist Edmund Bernays, of the “conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses.”

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