I was very pleased with this years Mass Comm Week events I was able to attend. They were very insightful and intriguing about how the various careers in mass communication and digital media are developing and thriving. I was able to attend a few of the speakers, the one that I found to be most interesting was the screening of “Merchants of Doubt” followed by a short panel discussion with some of our Journalism and Public Relations students. The film was about how scientific authorities with political connections denied claims about how the health risks of tobacco and signs of climate change. Later when they were given evidence of the claims, they still denied these claims. The truth about the health risks of smoking were revealed and the tobacco companies were forced to advertise these health risks to its consumers. The film was very interesting in how even with scientific evidence some authority officials will still deny these claims.
The panel discussion that followed consisted of two journalism major students and two public relations major students. They were asked a series of questions on how they would approach a crisis or situation similar to the ones being presents in the film. Each of the students had very different approaches to which they would handle such a dilemma. The journalism students would approach the situation with a rather aggressive approach, trying to figure out what is being done, who is taking the initiative to make changes, and a time table of when the changes would take effect. One of the journalism stated, “As a journalist, you have to be your own investigator in finding out information, and fact checking your sources…”. The public relations students took the approach of moral responsibility. They believed that if they had a client that would falsely deny claims with factual evidence or a client who would ask them to lie, they would simply choose not to work with that client. The panel was also asked an interesting question from an audience, “What if you worked for a company that had a good reputation, but was caught in a lie such as, Volkswagen?”. One of the public relations students answered, “As a public relations professional, when working with a huge company like that we would need to know the ins and outs of the company, making sure we know as much as possible so we are not left out of the loop. Now if it came down to the company asking us to lie for them, it is up to us as professionals to determine whether or not that is the type of company we want to work for and represent because eventually, like the film just showed, the truth will come out.”