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Telegraph View: In a spin over whether to trust

David Walsh Business Round Table with Nancy Fielder
David Walsh Business Round Table with Nancy Fielder

Why don’t you just ask the question?

There was a time when journalists would call the person they needed to speak to and have a conversation. That could be a police officer, councillor, planning officer, health official ... everyone really.

If the worry is they might say something that makes their organisation look bad to Sheffielders let me just remind you, those organisations belong to this city - we are one and the same.

But those days are largely gone so when readers ask why we aren’t asking the question, the answer is somewhat complicated. As crime reporter my day always started at the police station, with an officer talking through the events of the night. Then came the belief that informing people raised fear of crime. Don’t tell them and it is like it never happened.

Now we have social media where everybody knows everything, only most of it is based on gossip and inaccurate. So, for me, there is more need than ever for the bodies who work for us and are paid by our taxes to communicate openly. Rumour is stopped by facts and that is where local journalists, working alongside the experts on any particular story, come in.

I’m talking about a conversation rather than an emailed statement, so often written by a press officer then agreed by whomsoever has their name attached to it.

Can we really not trust doctors, teachers, politicians, well-paid officials to talk? If the worry is they might say something that makes their organisation look bad to Sheffielders let me just remind you, those organisations belong to this city - we are one and the same.

I’m not pretending to be neutral in this debate. When journalists move into PR, as most do, we joke that they’ve joined the dark side. I have many friends who have moved over and I greatly respect their opinions.

So while I find myself unable to sit on the fence, we asked some of the top names in this city’s PR industry to give their opinion for Voices as well as providing you with the facts and figures. You decide, because that’s how journalism should work.