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Re-assessing the “Public's Right to Know”: The shift from journalism to political PR

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Abstract

The path between journalism and parliamentary media advising is well trodden. However, there has been little examination of the impact becoming a media adviser has on a reporter's conception of journalism values and practice. This paper reports on a selection of findings from broader inductive qualitative research into the under-explored career transition from journalism to parliamentary media advising and back. Semi-structured interviews with 21 journalists who had moved between the two roles revealed the shift to political public relations (PR) led several of the journalists to reassess their commitment to the fundamental journalism principle of the “public's right to know”. Once working as parliamentary media advisers, the transcripts showed a growing sense of caution around the release information by the former journalists, in response to the confidential nature of politics, and being on the receiving end of unethical journalism practice. Central to this change was an erosion of trust in particular reporters due to perceptions of unethical practice. Based on these findings this paper argues it is important for both journalists and political media advisers to reflect on the way in which their own actions might be perceived by the other, and consider whether their practices are helping to facilitate or restrict the free flow of information to the public.

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APA

Fisher, C. (2017). Re-assessing the “Public’s Right to Know”: The shift from journalism to political PR. Journalism Studies, 18(3), 358–375. https://doi.org/10.1080/1461670X.2015.1065196

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