I have slightly mixed feelings about this as I occasionally teach a class on how to write a press release that is so like a 'proper' news story that it will get published just the way you've written it. Good PR is about getting the message across and winning those all important column inches, of course, and in the case of my students the message is usually something along the lines of local-author-signs-books-at-out-of-town-community-centre and they need all the help they can get to have anyone pop along who hasn't been bribed by the promise of a pint afterwards or is related by blood...
But what about the big stories? Are they the product of a journalist asking questions or a very biased press release?
You can find out by visiting Churnalism, an independant website set up by a media charity. (Click on the title of this post to go straight there.) All you have do is paste in any news story that raises your suspicions.
‘Churnalism’ is defined as a news article that is published as journalism, but is essentially a press release without much added.
I predict that we are going to see more and more churned out stories as staffing levels in editorial departments are slashed. And when it comes to things that matter we do need people to ask questions.