A new website seeks to balance out bias in news and help public relations professionals to address “fake news” by encouraging them to collaborate with each other on news releases and content.
Inspired by crowdsourcing and aiming to compete directly with other open-source news services, ThePublicInterest.info is built on a positive opinion of public relations professionals and what they contribute to media.
PR professionals not only have access to experts, research and information, secure sources of funding enable them to produce high quality content. ThePublicInterest.info works from the premise that these valuable resources should be embraced, not rejected, by news sites.
Increasingly consumers are bypassing journalists and news sites. They are both choosing, and being encouraged, to go directly to the source of comment and information – whether that be politicians, governments, campaign groups or brands. Attaining any balance requires accessing more than one source. Few have the time to do so, even if they have the inclination. ThePublicInterest.Info aims to give journalists and consumers a single site where sources can present their facts and opinions on issues within the same news article.
“Public relations professionals within communications departments, campaigning organisations as well as PR and content agencies are creating a great deal of high quality content which is pitched to journalists for inclusion in articles,” said ThePublicInterest.info’s founder Brian Ahearne. “Open source and crowd sourced media ventures are failing because they’re not funding their editorial teams effectively. Citizen journalists don’t have the time or incentive to create balanced content for free. PR professionals are paid to create content by entities that must comply with the law and should comply with codes of ethics. Much of that content goes unused by journalists producing articles. It’s an incredible and under-tapped resource. Encouraging PR professionals from different, even competing organisations to collaborate on press releases and news articles will offer journalists and readers more balanced, less biased content.”
How it works
Currently ThePublicInterest.info is publishing news releases from English-language government communications departments – the UK, USA, Ireland, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, However any public relations professional can submit their press release directly onto the site. No sell-in is required. PR professionals must simply register with The PublicInterest.Info and abide by the code of practice and simple style guide when uploading their content.
Any other PR professional registered with ThePublicInterest.Info can edit any press release on the site, whether it be their own, published from a government news release feed, or submitted by another public relations professional. At present all edits must be approved by ThePublicInterest.Info’s team of moderators based on an assessment of adherence to the style guide and code of practice. This will change in the future.
All versions of every news release, from the original, to every subsequent revised version, will remain live on the site, via the “Revision History” feature. Every edit creates a new version of each news release or article. For the sake of both transparency and accountability, previous versions are stored on the site and will be accessible at the foot of each edited article – although they may be deleted after some weeks. Displaying previous versions enables readers and journalists to identify where both biases and balance are introduced into an article.
The aim is to place all sides of a discussion in one place, directly from the primary sources of news and media comment.
“ThePublicInterest.Info should reveal hidden agendas, ensure words aren’t twisted, and avoid selective quotation to fit an editorial line. Enabling PR professionals to transparently publish the facts, stats and opinions at their disposal, they can more effectively communicate their messages on a level playing field to be evaluated by the court of public opinion. ThePublicInterest.info seeks to encourage constructive, ethical and reasonable sharing of content, evidence and points of view in a very sad era where ‘fake news’, ‘clickbait’ and bias dominate the news cycle.”