Volume 4, Number 1


Journalism vs. public relations: Situation analysis
Kaul, V.

This paper examines why the relationship between public relations (PR) practitioners and journalists is so complex and antagonistic. It also raises important questions about the implications for both journalists and public relations practitioners of working within a relationship in which there are forceful and dichotomous conceptualisations by one party of another. The strength of ambiguous feeling evident in many of the statements suggests that there is a need to consider the impact on individuals and on professional decision-making processes of such entrenched, ardent, and in many cases, hostile, views, as well as to question the applicability of this kind of long-standing professional cultural ‘stance’ to today’s changing media landscape. A number of researchers claim that prejudice against public relations is not due to negative personal experiences, but is rooted in journalism culture. What is the outcome of these relations and how do they affect journalism and news selection? Do journalism and public relations programmes belong in the same academic department? Are academic programmes in part responsible for perpetuating stereotypes and contributing to negative perceptions about public relations?

This study, based on interviews with both sides, identifies a close and continuous, though mostly one-sided, contact in which PR actors steadily provide journalists and editors with instrumental news angles with regard to news management. While the former claim that they often succeed in planting their promotional ideas in newspapers and programmes, the latter mostly deny such a claim. However, admitting that the PR sphere does constitute a skilful news producer, journalists relate that, in times of decreased editorial resources, they are dependent on material from outside sources. A mutually dependent exchange relation can thus be seen as a summarised picture of the PR-media relationship.

Keywords: Public relations; Media relations; PR-media; News management