Mass Communications: Connecting Public Relations, Advertising, and Journalism

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One cannot exist without the other. This phrase holds especially true for not two, but three practices within the mass communication world. Journalism, advertising, and public relations are like three best friends that grew up together. They have each played significant roles in the upcoming of their industries and still tend to overlap today. The history of these practices’ evolutions into professional industries shows them intersecting and combining with each other as they also struggled with issues of honesty, integrity, and governmental regulation.

The start of journalism revolved around questions. What is considered news and who gets to decide? Today, 17th and 18th century papers like Publick Occurrences and Boston News-Letter seem obviously illegitimate because of the inaccuracy of the information and licensing/seditious libel laws that heavily restricted the truth of the Boston News-Letter. Like public relations, the start of professionalizing the news industry began with setting a theme of honesty and integrity. In the Zenger case, John Peter Zenger, publisher of the New York Weekly, truthfully criticized the royal governor for committing illegal acts, which at the time was a violation of seditious libel law (Rodman 91). Because Zenger had been telling the truth, the court ruled in his favor and it was established that newspapers were allowed to publish the truth about the government. Also, partisan press began to disappear as, “Gradually, [however], editors of major credible papers began to standardize their definition of news” (Rodman 92). This meant the start of an editorial page and hard news included relevant current events rather than propaganda. Later on, to encourage the ideas of honesty and integrity in the news, the Society of Professional Journalists formed a code of ethics, essentially completing the establishment of journalism as a respected, professional industry.

Advertising merged with journalism as printing the news...
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