Voluntary sector issues are not taken seriously, say editors..

The editor of Society Guardian has warned charity PROs that the media do not take the voluntary sector seriously.

Patrick Butler told a voluntary sector conference: 'The media give you an easy ride but that is bad for you. They indulge you but I don't think they take you seriously either. It is not a healthy relationship. The media can just see you as a source of celebrity stories.'

Butler was speaking at PRWeek sister title Third Sector's Fundraising, PR & Communications Excellence conference last week. He was one of four journalists taking part in a panel debate.

The assistant editor of the Today programme Peter Hanington agreed with Butler. 'The assumption is that you (the voluntary sector) is on the side of the angels, but that makes you boring,' he said. 'You have to work harder to prove you're relevant.'

Hanington suggested that because the heads of public bodies were treated as guilty until proven innocent, they secured the most high profile radio slots - whereas charity stories were often buried.

'Often charity stories might appear in the 6.50am slot,' he said, adding that a story in this slot would have less risk of being pushed out by other news.

The panel also addressed the thorny issue of politically correct language. While the journalists all said they would strive to be politically correct, they added that this was less of a concern than communicating effectively.

Channel 4 News' social affairs correspondent Victoria MacDonald said: 'It is not for us to start translating your story. PC terms can get in the way of telling your story.'

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