Journalism and Influencing Public Opinion


 

The 7th Lubavitch Rebbe  had a high regard for journalism as a profession and I surmise from what others have said about him on this topic that he also had a high regard for public relations, or more specifically media relations, practitioners as well. The Rebbe perceived a clear need, so I am told, for journalists and, indeed, other writers to be influential in their writings in order to sway public opinion.

While I agree that the job of a public relations professional is to gain the public’s interest and, hopefully, positive interest in a particular issue, I respectfully disagree with the Rebbe that this is, or should be, the mission of a journalist. While I know it can often have that effect, I don’t believe that journalists should give their personal opinions when writing in journalistic form and from that platform.  All my formal training in public relations and journalism and my reading on journalism and journalistic writing has led me to believe that reporting by journalists for a public media outlet (e.g. newspapers, radio news, TV news etc…) should be written as unbiased as possible. While journalists do have the opportunity to inform their readers, they should not tell readers what to think (opinion), but, rather, what to think about (subject).

 The Rebbe was not only learned in Torah, Jewish law and spiritual matters, he was formally educated in science, mathematics, philosophy and engineering at European universities and  institutions, before qualifying as a licensed electrical engineer.

Verse from Torah: A voice is heard on high, the “higher” the stature of the voice the greater its influence will be on the public.

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