Goff and Howard Public Relations / Public Affairs Logo

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Media mogul oversteps boundary

Media mogul Mort Zuckerman recently told Fox News that he had helped write one of President Obama’s speeches. Zuckerman is the owner of the New York Daily News and U.S. News & World Report and a regular commentator on Sunday morning news shows.

Despite The Atlantic’s report that “Obama’s aides don’t remember consulting with Zuckerman,” Zuckerman’s claim blurs the relationship between journalists, media companies, and the people and issues they cover. Can media companies be an unbiased source of information if they also help create content for the same high-ranking officials on whom they report?

How would you react if the publisher of the Star Tribune wrote a speech for Governor Tim Pawlenty or the publisher of the Pioneer Press wrote a speech for Mayor Chris Coleman? Would you be skeptical of the newspaper’s future reporting, especially its investigative reporting? Or would you think it is just a reflection of the evolution of the media industry from unbiased reporting to slanted coverage (for example, the Huffington Post or Fox News)?

Certainly, a move like this would undermine the public’s respect for the media and public policy. But the question remains, how much would the journalism industry suffer?

Media companies are trying to stay relevant by redefining their niche in society. Speech writing for the President of the United States goes too far.