Discuss the Relationship Between Public Relations and News Sources. How Does the Relationship Impact on the News Product?

Topics: Public relations, Mass media, Propaganda Pages: 7 (2572 words) Published: November 5, 2010
Discuss the relationship between Public Relations and news sources. How does the relationship impact on the news product? In today’s society, Public relations can be described as ‘a profession of creating an understanding between an institute and its public,’ by practitioners who wish to conserve its small amount of positive credibility. On the other hand public relations can be seen as a way of using propaganda to undermine the values and beliefs of the public. These two descriptions show the difference between persuasion and propaganda. Propaganda is to “disseminate or promote particular ideas” (Jowett & O’Donnell, 2006, p.02); whereas persuasion is the “communicative process to influence others with a persuasive message” (Jowett & O’Donnell, 2006, p.31) but not necessarily force the recipient to adopt the point of view. This essay aims to analyse the relationship between the industry of Public Relations and different types of sources that are seeking to gain media coverage, in order to support the argument that the PR industry is now a dominating source of information subsidy for journalists. It then asks the question ‘is the impact on the news product accurate and neutral?’ I will define and explain the elements that build Public Relations, journalism and news sources, discuss the evidence of a symbiotic relationship, and the determine the elements that suggest the recent growth of the Public Relations industry has domination over news sources and an impact on the news product. In this situation a news source refers to someone who is likely to be referred to by the media for the validity of their position in relation to the news. In contrast to today’s point of view, Edward Bernays, the original founder of the term public relations, described it as “manipulating the unconscious, as a way to make money” (The century of the self, 2002), and although this is a way to ‘disseminate and promote’ he used the name ‘public relation council’ as a way to shield the profession from the term propaganda. Bernays idea suggested it was possible to “persuade people to behave irrationally if you link products to their emotional desires and feelings” (Hetzler, 2008). He changed people’s mentality, using psychological theory to understand what motivates the human mind, to appeal to the masses. Decades later and Public relations has grown into a “complex, continuing, interactive process in which a sender and a receiver are linked by symbols, verbal and nonverbal, through which the persuader attempts to influence the persuadee to adopt a change in a given attitude or behaviour” (Jowett & O’Donnell, 2006, p.31). The process produces a press release or similar output that states what they want you to know and disguises or blatantly excludes what they do not want you to know. A practitioner in this particular industry must represent a source in an attempt to “hide bad news and put a ‘good spin’ on any harmful stories” (McGregor & Comrie, 2002, p.158) With this strategy in mind, Businesses and Governments are now the biggest users of public relations, with that same aim of enhancing and protecting their economical and political interests. Evidence of this is suggested with the increase of employees and the jump in budgets for the consultancy sectors of these industries. The times magazine listed the top 1000 companies, of which 69% of the top 100 used PR consultancy firms, another suggestion it is a preferred strategy, of recent times, to manage top companies in the public eye. The growth in the industry has resulted in a huge rise in the expense of hiring practitioners. This is another reason that large businesses and the government sectors are the main users of PR, because they have the available resources to afford and maintain it. This results in these large sectors dominating the news, over areas like charities and unions that are marginalised with limited resources. It is not definite when exactly public relations began...
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