The Relationship Between Journalism and Public Relations

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The relationship between journalism and public relations has been described as tumultuous. Hitchcock (2012) says there is a shifting dynamic between the two and has found that journalists are starting to become more and more reliant on public relations ‘(PR)’, while Jackson (2009) says that up to 80% of media content has come from a public relations source. In this instance, Evans (2010) says, “it is time to admit that the two disciplines of journalism and PR are two sides of the same coin and that there is now complete freedom of movement between them” (p?). FIND PAGE NUMBER

This essay will discuss the role of both public relations and journalism in the media, followed by an examination of the symbiotic relationship these two professions share. Differing views and issues surrounding the relationship will also be considered. Furthermore, media relations and new media technology will be examined regarding the tension between PR and journalism. A conclusion will then be summarized to support the idea that the relationship between public relations and journalism is symbiotic to an extent, however there are other factors also to consider when making such a statement.

The Oxford Dictionary (2012) defines the term symbiosis as ‘a mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups’. In this case we are examining the relationship between PR and journalism and how they mutually benefit from their day-to-day dealings with each other.

According to Tench (2009), PR plays an important role in shaping the news by persuading other people to convey important messages to the organisations publics. This is done with support from media outputs and can also be described as ‘endorsement’. Furthermore, the PR practitioner should use sound media relations to gain editorial coverage in appropriate media channels. By doing this, Comrie (2007) elaborates that the organization’s reputation will impact positively by integrating a strategic plan in line with the company’s mission.

Journalists in the media are wary of public relations practitioners, regardless of the fact that they deal with them daily. According to White and Hobsbawn (2007) they view PR practitioners as ambiguous sources to deal with and are often cautious and wary of whether the information given could be misleading or deceptive. Furthermore, Callad (2007) says that journalist’s gut reactions to ‘PR’ in general are almost immediately related to specific PR people in which they may have had a bad experience with, instead of the response to the profession its self. This type of stereotyping is a typical occurrence in their professional relationship.

The relationship between PR and journalism is seen to mutually benefit both parties. Edward Bernays (in Evans, 2010) talks of the crucial importance of the press. This is because newspaper coverage can translate social ideas into facts, which in turn can influence the target publics of an organisation. Jackson (2009) also supports the idea that there is a symbiotic relationship of some kind existing between PR and journalism by saying “PR is a fact of life. Journalists should recognize it as an important channel” (p2). Jackson then elaborates on the role of PR by stating that there is a very significant amount of PR material in the media and that therefore plays an important role in news making. Furthermore, Grunig and Hunt (in Tench, 2009) underwent a survey in 2000 that indicated PR sources are responsible for around half of the news printed in newspapers. Press releases sent out by the Press Association are likely to include contribution from practitioners. (Mersham et al,. 2009) says that both sport and not for profit charities use emotional content in the promotion of their organisation, which in turn appeals to media outlets. These situations support the idea of symbiosis between PR and journalism, as journalists like to run stories with high emotional content, which will then in turn generate...
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