Archive for July, 2011

PR and the hacking saga

The focus of the unfolding stories – and the scope of the Levenson Inquiry, so far – has been on the relationship between the tabloid press, the police and politicians. As this article from PR Week illustrates, PR people lurk at every junction of this network.

PR in hacking story

This is not surprising as the story concerns exchanges of power between key players, the power to reveal or withhold private information; to support or oppose media legislation; and in the case of the police, the power to promote the Met and/or and particular factions within it. Each group can be seen as maximising their interests at the expense of others – again illustrating the conflict between the ethical claims to serve society promoted by all the players’ professional codes and the much dirtier rules of advocacy followed in practice.

Today’s PR week reports on Rebekah Brooks’ hiring of PR services to handle the Sara Payne hacking allegations…

Brooks’ PR


this story goes on and on and the PR role’s barely been touched.



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NOTW reflections

Suzanne Moore has written an interesting piece about the political/police/media nexus exposed in recent weeks: Suzanne Moore on spin She echoes thoughts I’ve been having over the past amazing fortnight.:

  • everyone is calling for new/better ethics. No one has the faintest idea what might constitute such ethics – what approach do they recommend? Utilitarian, deontological, virtue-based? The level of discussion remains painfully abstract. Professional ethics have offered no brake on the behaviour of journalists or police involved in these stories.
  • The focus is shifting from the actions of individuals to collective issues, the culture of a news room or multinational. This ties with my research that shows most professional ethics blames individuals and avoids collective responsibility wherever possible. Today’s Observer reports the Catholic Church’s legal attempt to deny responsibility for priests’ abuse on the technical grounds that they are not Church employees.
  • The person who embodies the ethical conflicts in the NOTW story is Paul McMullen, the former deputy features editor who was shredded by Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan, Paxo and anyone else who lined up in a TV studio – to which he kept turning up in a series of attempts both to exonerate and blame himself. Sometimes his defence was ‘ we were after the truth’, evoking the archetypal journalist as truth seeker and public defender. When people gawped at such a justification of phone hacking, he offered the other old card ‘ just entertainment’, a line I remember from old Fleet Street days when I would attack my mother’s Daily Express colleagues. He seemed anguished though, someone knowing the inadequacy of his position and thus illustrating the terrible damage done to those who follow organisational ethical norms but violate something deeper, more personal.




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In the final stages of sorting new 2 year appointment as Senior Lecturer in PR at Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, NSW (http://www.csu.edu.au/). Due to start in November 2011, with particular goal of increasing research outputs of self and team. Already know and like Dr Peter Simmons, who runs the PR section, and have just met his warm and welcoming wife Bernie and loads of wonderful women in Australian/NZ PR education – made strong connections with Barbara Walsh and Kay Weaver – I already know Christine Daymon and re-connected with Judy Motion in Australia, plus  Margolit Toledano and her lovely husband David Mckie in NZ, so feel sure of good antipodean welcome.

Looking forward to teaching again – probably first year UG module/course, plus DBA and PhD supervision – a lot of online teaching, which will be a new experience.

Great deal to sort out logistically, renting out my home in Leeds, then finding and furnishing a home in Bathurst, plus tax, pensions etc. May start a new blog about the ups and downs of the trip or use this one as base? Whole thing is a massive adventure, unexpected and deeply exciting.

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