I have written at some length in recent months, about the continuous migration of journalists to the public relations field. Journalism, it seems, is a labour pool for the human rsources needs of the corporate communications industry.
I think it's clear that there would be fewer journalists moving to PR, if they were better paid and perhaps had less insane hours. Last week, I received a note from a colleague that clinched this point, in case there was any doubt.
Lynn Barter was a seasoned reporter and editor with The Telegram, before being declared redundant when the paper was sold to Hollinger Inc. She was so disillusioned by that experience that she left journalism altogether, taking a position with the provincial government and later becoming Director of Communications and Public Affairs with the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association. Here's Barter's story, in her own words:
I worked for daily newspapers in the province for just over 10 years, both as a reporter and as an editor. The pay was never spectacular, the hours were terrible, but I loved the work.
When the then Thomson papers were sold to Hollinger, I, along with a number of others, was told my services were no longer required. Seniority didn't count for much and neither did dedication or competency. As the folklore goes, they counted the number of chairs in the newsroom, subtracted a certain percentage, and eliminated jobs.
I was told I was being "layed off" at 3 p.m. on a Friday afternoon AFTER I had completed the news lineup for the Saturday paper. Enough said.
I hadn't ever considered working in public relations, but it proved to be a logical transition. It didn't take long to make the career change and, I have to say, it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
I don't consider my work as a communications professional to be working on the "dark side". What I do complements the work of the media and, for those us in public relations, we all know that media relations is only a fraction of our day-to-day responsibilities. It is a diverse, challenging and rewarding job, one I love and wouldn't give up for the world.
On the issue of pay, just a short comment. My first job as a junior communications officer with government paid more than I made as the assignment editor at the Telegram.