journalism · public relations · Young Life

Journalism and Public Relations: How does Young Life fit in?

Those unfamiliar with the world of communications often consider journalism and public relations “the same thing,” but their objectives are different.

In journalism, a journalist gathers and selects information with the primary purpose of educating the public with newsworthy stories. Journalists often do not and should not write from one side of an issue because their work is usually published to a mass audience. Getting two sides of a story ensures a complete story. A journalist also releases their writing through print stories. In these news stories it’s the journalist’s duty to portray a certain situation/event in a realistic light, while public relations try to portray trends and ideas in society.

Public Relations professionals do inform like journalists, but the overall goal is to motivate a person or group to take a specific action. Individuals, governments, or organizations will use their communication skills to persuade its targeted audience to adopt a point of view. Public relations crafts an image, managing media relations to secure favorable coverage, deal with crises, and social responsibilities. They release their messages through press releases, VNRs, PSAs and the internet.

Within Young Life, the use of journalism is not often seen, but public relations is. Public relations normally crafts a positive image and it is rare that Young Life releases anything that has potential to be controversial or negative considering its Christian affiliation.

Young Life in the Greater Holland Area is mostly represented by the white middle-class. Yet, two staff members agree that the demographics of each club in the area do not reflect the overall representation of race in Holland, Michigan. This story could be covered, but as an organization that supposedly represents the entire community and believes it’s everyone’s right to hear the story of Jesus, this issue is not recognized by several others.

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