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119 Who owns the story?

December 26, 2011

Communication professionals and PR practitioners often face an uneasy situation with a  journalist (especially with the rapid growth of digital outlets and a desperation to gather as many bylines) friend or acquaintance requesting (and sometimes pestering) for an exclusive story or being told that, they have exclusive information from their ”internal sources’  and they need a comment which in other terms is a confirmation. The most common ways the second situation is handled is by denying or ignoring such requests (which is not a good idea) or by sharing the news with the entire media universe because of a prevailing sense that the news has been prematurely leaked. I would think a better way would be to request the journalist/media outlet to hold on to the information and this journalist be given the right to carry the news a few minutes before it is shared with all on the designated day because the person respected a request to delay publishing the news.

I think no one other than the organisation about whom the information it is, owns the information until it is made public. A journalist or media outlet can only own the content once it is published. Until then the story is not owned by anyone, as many would like to believe by virtue of being powerful enough to be able to make or break reputations.

I will discuss two-three cases in a subsequent blog  and how these were handled in my previous job. I will refer to them as a, b and c – they all represent the three leading marketing and media portals of India. Watch out for that in a few days.

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