It's no secret that plenty of PR people are still trying to figure out this internet thing. Clearly, it's not as bad as it's been in the past, with a small, but growing, number of PR folks finally starting to understand how the internet works -- and why some old practices won't work online. However, one thing that so many PR people still rely on is the press release. Press releases can still make some sense for getting news out to certain media organizations, but many bloggers absolutely hate getting bombarded with press releases (including us, by the way -- so, um, please stop). Still, it seems like some PR people who haven't really figured out the internet are trying to pick up the lingo and morph it into what they already do. So, we start to hear stories about press releases being submitted pretending to be "citizen journalism." What's funny here, of course, is that it was submitted to a site that doesn't even print citizen journalism pieces -- but the PR person seemed to figure that if they called their press release "citizen journalism" maybe it would get more attention. It seems likely that this trend is going to continue. In fact, once PR folks really pick up on the concept of citizen journalism, it seems quite likely that they'll start "participating," by writing stories for citizen journalism sites that are, really, no more than press releases. We've already talked about how citizen journalism can get morphed into "victim journalism" when someone who's a part of the story writes about it -- but that can also be used for more dubious reasons. It's likely that some will start to complain about this aspect of citizen journalism -- but, realistically it's going to happen one way or the other. The real question is what can be done to push readers to be more skeptical of what they read, and how to create better mechanisms to highlight the biases of various "independent" writers.
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