Local Reporter Thanks PR Team for ‘Scoop’ On-Air

Perfect illustration of the way media works today.

Today in State of the Media news: as reported yesterday by our sister site TVSpy, a local TV journalist in El Paso, Texas perfectly illustrated the current iteration of media relations by thanking a PR team for her own “scoop” while reporting live on-air.

Last week, Pilar Arias of KVIA told followers to expect a hot breaking story that evening:

The subject of the report was the El Paso Independent School District’s plans to merge two different elementary schools — a plan that the school’s own internal comms team obviously pitched to local journalists.

At the end of her report, Arias dropped this line (via the El Paso Times Media Buzz blog):

“I would like to thank the El Paso ISD public information team for giving me this information tonight to give it to you first before you hear it anywhere else.” 

The problem with that statement was two-fold: it violated the station’s (obvious) policy to not “thank sources or PR teams for information,” and it wasn’t quite true. At the time of the broadcast, a more extensive report on the school district’s plans had been live on the El Paso Times’ own webpage “for at least half an hour.”

This is an isolated incident, and investigative journalism is not dead. But its vital signs aren’t looking so great.