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Zavia Rudisell
Connie S. Douglas
ENGL 2116- 008
21 November 2016
Public Relations and Journalism: Unpacking the Love- Hate Relationship
Introduction
Public relations (PR) is the act of maintaining or creating a positive image of a company
or public figure. Journalism is the collection and distribution of information, or news, to
audiences. Professionals in both fields depend on one another to stay up to date on what is
happening in the world. Despite a long history of dealing with each other, the interrelationship
between journalism and PR has been and remains a strained bedfellowship... (Macnamara 119)
Journalists seeking the truth dislike how public relations professionals create pseudo, or fake,
events to create or maintain images. Public relations practitioners are not fond of how journalists
are always snooping around trying to expose their clients. Regardless of the tensions, the lines
between these two fields are constantly being blurred and re- drawn by factors including social
media, the needs of dwindling media companies and the demands of the public. The focus of this
research is to uncover how these two fields not only benefit each other, but how they can be used
together by people looking for careers in communications and media. Half of the research
requires descriptions of where and how they intertwine; the other half requires a look at the
disconnect between the fields and possible solutions to improve it. It will also examine how
social media affects each field and the work they seek to do.
How They Intertwine

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In regards to American history, the fields have been connected since before World War I.
In a study highlighted by Jim Macnamara, journalist Willard Blyer reported that a system of
supplying newspapers with publicity and propaganda in the guise of news became so popular
that a census of accredited press agents was conducted by New York newspapers.
This study identified around 1,200 PR professionals working to influence public opinion
through mass media in the early 1900s. Other historical reviews that support the idea that
journalism and PR are interdependent include a 1926 study of The New York Times. It found that
fifty- seven percent of newspaper stories had been suggested, created, or supplied by PR
practitioners. Currently, between 30% and 80% of media content is sourced from or
significantly influenced by PR (Macnamara 122) On the flip side, most people practicing PR
report that they use media; such as, television news, newspapers, and radio reports curated by
journalists to stay up-to-date on trends and worldly affairs.
The Disconnect
There is mutual dependence, but also mutual caution and that doesnt lead to a trusting
atmosphere. (Green 1) Some blame it on the lack of trust journalists have towards people in PR.
Most journalists view PR practitioners similarly to William Lippman as described in this quote:
[PR is] not a matter of reporting the facts but of reporting what he called a stylized version of
them The publicity man does that [] But it follows that the picture which the publicity man
makes for the reporter is the one he wishes the public to see. He is censor and propagandist,
responsible only to his employers, and to the whole truth responsible only as it accords with the
employers conception of his own interest. (Lloyd 6) Journalists can do their job without
them. (Jetton) Public relations people feel resentful about the fact that the press is always ready
to pounce on negative stories, but are notably more reluctant to publish the good news.

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The Internet
In this technological age, it is important to examine the effect the internet has on the
fields. PR and journalism professionals alike are no longer able to be gatekeepers because the
common man now has accessibility and power over what they believe is news. People no
longer rely on individual journalists to provide news, but instead depend on their ability to gather
and collect information into a single location where users can access it. Social media platforms
allow people to find out what is happening around the world faster than ever and has created the
24/7 news cycle. According to the Pew Research Journalism Project, thirty percent of United
States adults consume news on Facebook (whether its from trusted news sources or not), and
seventy-eight percent of those adults mostly see news when they are on Facebook for other
reasons. Forty-five percent of Americans own a smartphone today. Of that forty-five percent,
thirty-six percent get news on their smartphone daily. Many newsrooms have added a digital
media team, a group of people hired to produce and manage online content, which has become
the norm in many local stations and at the network level (Chadwick 2). This takes the pressure
off of reporters who must go on site to gain information for news stories. Due to the internet,
journalists are now also able to find leads and tips through social media sites and are sometimes
able to use this user- generated content to create stories. PR people must meet their publics, or
audiences, halfway and do so by interacting with them on social media sites; such as, Twitter and
Facebook. Social media increases transparency and opens up an infinite demand for
engagement at every level, from mighty corporations to the individual. This puts a high premium
on a constant flow of messages from prominent institutions and individuals, proactively and
reactively. A large new area has opened up for public relations in protecting and burnishing the

reputation of companies, institutions, and individuals. Though always part of PR, reputation is
now seen to be more fragile, more open to
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attack, especially on social media. New techniques of guarding reputation on the internet have
been developed. Corporations take part in the debates that concern them and speak to their
audiences directly rather than producing a full- length press release. This allows companies and
organizations to address problems and concerns in a less time- consuming way.
Why the Relationship Matters
Presently, there is a notable trend of journalists leaving their field for jobs in PR. During
an interview with former journalist and press secretary Susan Jetton, she stated that her reason
for making the transition was the fact that she did not want to be promoted to editor and sit at a
desk all day(Jetton). She also said many other journalists shared those sentiments. When asked
about her other colleagues and why they went from hack to flack, she said many of them wanted
more structured hours and workdays compared to their hours as journalists. Other reports from
journalists show that pay is another major factor. Regardless of the reason, it is important to
recognize the trend and use it to mend the broken relationship because of this growing shift.
Many journalists are still looking for jobs in the PR since newspapers and media companies
continue to downsize, but fail to conduct research about PR to ease the transition. The skills one
need to prosper as a journalist are easily transferrable to PR. Many students in college seek to
make a career out of their journalism and public relation skills. Research about journalism and
PR is very relevant to communications students, because it can help them create a niche out of
combining the two fields.
Conclusion

While conducting this research, it was apparent studies of this sort are fairly new. Many
articles examined the relationship between the two fields, but there is a need for more
quantitative research that further supports the data in the articles if one decides to take this
research report a step further.
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There are some journalists and PR professionals that believe the relationship between
journalism and public relations will never improve and are destined to be in everlasting conflict,
but that is not the case for others. Those who have hope for the relationship believe practitioners
from both sides need to gain an understanding of the pressures on both sides [to] help to bring
some light to the situation. (Green 1) Regardless of how people feel about the relationship, two
things are certain. The first thing is that journalism can hardly exist without PR, and the world of
PR would not be the same without journalists. Secondly, the ever- changing social media
landscape is continues to make the two fields more complex. It seems now, more than ever,
public relations and journalism fields are merging to the point where they may become
interchangeable.

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Works Cited
Capriotti, P, and A Huertas. "Trending Topics and Key Issues in Public Relations."Catalan
Journal of Communication and Cultural Studies, vol. 7, no. 2, 2015, pp. 123-128.
Print.
Chadwick, Nicole. "Revolutionizing the Newsroom: How Online and Mobile Technologies
Have Changed Broadcast Journalism." Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research
in

Communications 5.1 2014. <http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/a?id=969>

Falconi, Tony. Anne Gregory on relationships between public relations and journalism. PR
Conversations, 27 Jun. 2007, www.prconversations.com. Accessed 19 November
2016.
Jetton, Susan. Personal interview. 22 October 2016.
Lloyd, John and Laura Toogood. Journalism and PR: News Media and Public Relations in
the Digital Age. I.B Taurus & Company, 2016.
Macnamara, Jim. "The Continuing Convergence of Journalism and Pr." Journalism &
Mass Communication Quarterly, vol. 93, no. 1, 2016. Print.
White, Jon, and Julia Hobsbawm. "Public Relations and Journalism." Journalism Practice,
vol.1, no. 2, 2007, pp. 283-292. Print.