PR, journalism and democracy: how individuals might guard themselves against the manipulation of public opinion
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This thesis is a series of four articles examining the interface of public relations and journalism and how this affects the information the public receives as news. The central research question it aims to answer is: 'How can the public guard against manipulation of opinion?' The articles are accompanied by an exegesis which explains the research process and the role of important sources in the project. The research draws on relevant literature as well as interviews with people involved in public relations, journalism and academia.The first article Public Relations & Democratic Society looks at the various definitions of public relations and examines the debate over whether PR operates in the public interest. Article two, The Production of News, discusses the interface of public relations and journalism and also deals with the economic considerations affecting mass media outlets. PR Under the Spotlight in New Zealand, the third article, is a case study of a public relations campaign mounted by state-owned logging company Timberlands West Coast Ltd. The final article Navigating the Information Environment examines the current state of the interface between PR and journalism in New Zealand and sets out suggestions for how members of the public can avoid being manipulated.The research found that in order to prevent manipulation it is up to members of the public to actively seek truth and not uncritically accept information received through the media. Due to the work of the public relations industry and the media there are many ways in which information can be filtered and massaged and it is knowledge of these processes that puts the public in the best position to see reality.