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Journalism and PR

Unpacking ‘Spin’, Stereotypes, and Media Myths

Jim Macnamara

The interrelationship between journalism and public relations (PR) is one of the most contentious in the field of media studies. Numerous studies have shown that 50–80 per cent of the content of mass media is significantly shaped by PR. But many editors, journalists, and PR practitioners engage in a ‘discourse of denial’, maintaining what critics call the dirty secret of journalism – and PR. Media practitioners also engage in an accusatory ‘discourse of spin’ and a ‘discourse of victimhood’. On the other hand, PR practitioners say they help provide a voice for organizations, including those ignored by the media. Meanwhile, the growth of social media is providing new opportunities for governments, corporations, and organizations to create content and even their own media, increasing the channels and reach of PR.
This book reviews 100 years of research into the interrelationship between journalism and PR and, based on in-depth interviews with senior editors, journalists, and PR practitioners in several countries, presents new insights into the methods and extent of PR influence, its implications, and the need for transparency and change, making it a must-read for researchers and students in media studies, journalism, public relations, politics, sociology, and cultural studies.


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Chapter Eight: Future Directions for Journalism, PR, and the Public Sphere


c h a p t e r t h r e ee i g h t Future Directions for Journalism, PR, and the Public Sphere Extensive literature reviewed in this book and empirical data from international research reported in the previous chapters affirm that independent journalism remains relevant and important for societies, particularly democracies and those aspiring to democracy. Research also indicates that, despite the reported ‘crisis in journalism’, there is a future for journalism and a role for professional journalists— or multiple futures and roles to be more correct—some, or many of which, will be enacted outside of traditional media organizations and will include new forms of journalism. But new forms and roles of journalism should not be allowed to further converge or become conflated with PR, which is in danger of occurring because of the ‘crisis’ in traditional journalism caused by collapsing media business mod­ els, continuing rapid growth of PR, the global phenomenon of social media in which everyone and every organization is potentially a publisher and a broad­ caster, and proliferation of new media practices and formats such as ‘corporate journalism’ and ‘embedded marketing’, as discussed in this analysis. A conver­ gence of journalism and PR is not in the interests of journalism, or PR, in the view of many practitioners interviewed, and certainly not society, and, therefore, the issues raised should receive serious attention by scholars and practitioners in journalism and PR as well as those in media studies, sociology, politics, and cultural studies....

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