Breaking news, scientific breakthroughs, major spokesperson announcements, groundbreaking products are all areas that make the news.
A portion on these announcements come from press releases. Here is a selection of insights on how journalists in Australia and New Zealand view press releases and how they derive different types of value from them.
Point A: A common theme was the importance of the initial role of releases in news and information gathering. • “(It is) the starting point of the newsgathering process.” - Editor, Newspaper • “Often it’s the first alert I will get to somebody important coming into town or a new (musical) release.” Journalist, Entertainment News
Relationship Building: Another theme that emerges is a simple one: releases being essential for putting journalists and news sources in contact with each other. • “They are a great way to build your contacts.” - Producer, Radio • “They can be good to spark ideas and provide contacts.” - Editor, Online
Extra information: A press release can provide supplementary information for a journalist who is already working on a story. Sometimes it can contain the missing link And there is always evidence that releases are being drawn on towards crafting a story. • “If a press release has valuable new data then I’m likely to use it.” - Editor, Business News • "In the news cycle, they can be useful at highlighting an aspect of a story we hadn’t considered.” - Editor, Online
Good for finding a position on a matter Sometimes a press release can save a journalist time when they are looking to round out a story with a range of opinions or standpoints. • “The best stories rarely come from press releases, although they can be useful for ideas or getting quick reaction to a breaking story.” - National Affairs Writer, News Outlet • “Where traditionally a phone call would have provided the information needed, journalists are now being directed to written statements and press releases.” - New Zealand Reporter, Online Outlet
Cautious to use a release as the only source A widely held view among journalists is to treat press releases with caution. • “I’ve never had a problem with using press releases as a source of information. My problem is with journalism that takes a release at face value or, even worse, simply regurgitates it with a couple of syntactical changes, a few different words, a new comma. You needn’t leave your critical thinking at the door.” - Digital News Editor, Magazine