The Separation of Powers in Today’s Media Landscape



Posted: In: Blogs, Industry Insights & Trends Musings

As the countdown to the inauguration continues, I thought it would be fun — and hopefully a bit interesting — to have a little Government 101 refresh while simultaneously prompting you to think differently about the media world and all its various players.

Let’s start with a flash back to grade school. Remember learning about the three branches of the U.S. government?

There’s the legislative branch, which makes the laws; the executive branch, which carries them out; and the judicial branch, which decides if the laws in place are indeed in line with the Constitution. It’s all about checks and balances, just like the media world. Or at least, it should be.

  • The legislative branch is analogous to “companies” in that those organizations have specific agendas (stories) which they want to (hopefully) share with the world.
  • The executive branch echoes PR and communications professionals responsible for the tactical execution of those stories.
  • And the judicial branch is not unlike journalists, the gatekeepers of which stories make it to the public.

Granted, the rise of “owned media” shifts some of that power into our own hands and the companies we represent. In this sense, public relations has undergone a bit of a revolution. But it doesn’t change the fact that getting a stamp of approval from a reputable journalist is the ultimate validator in the business world.

And despite the fact that an increasing number of brand-published stories are blowing earned media hits out of the water, it’s a good thing that journalist-penned articles still get our C-suite leaders giddy. Journalists set the bar high, and this is a good thing.

No, the media landscape is not always easy to navigate. Neither is politics. But in a perfect world, it sure is democratic.

[Infographic inspired by USA.GOV]