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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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About the Author


Jim Macnamara, PhD, FPRIA, FAMI, CPM, FAMEC*, brings a unique perspective to this analysis of the controversial relationship between journalism and public relations, having worked as a journalist, as a PR practitioner, and as a media researcher for many years, before becoming a media and communication academic. He began his career writing for small country newspapers in Australia. These were “inauspicious and inconspicuous beginnings” according to the author. However, over the next decade he wrote as either a staff reporter or freelancer for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Land, Country Life, People magazine, Walkabout, Overlander, and Australian Playboy. As happens with many journalists, the financial lure of public relations brought a career change and he then spent almost 20 years working in PR roles, including serving as deputy manager of international PR consultancy Hill & Knowlton in Sydney, before co­founding and heading a successful communication consultancy where he coordinated corporate and marketing communication for clients includ­ ing Microsoft, Dell Computer, Vodafone, and Singapore Airlines. 284 | journalism and pr: unpacking ‘spin’, stereot ypes, and media my ths In 1994, after completing a Master of Arts by research examining the influ­ ence of PR on the media, he established the Asia Pacific office of the leading inter­ national media research firm CARMA International (Computer Aided Research and Media Analysis) and worked as a media researcher for a decade before selling the company and taking up an academic post as Professor of Public Communica­ tion at the University of Technology, Sydney. Jim holds...

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