Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

Will re post series of blogs from PRSA concerning teaching and practice of ethics in US.



Observation that PR students accept lying as norm is interesting. Remember it being seen as quite OK for students on placements to pretend to be researching for the university when it was for the agency  – their first experience of PR work involved misrepresentation, damaging them, the university and the agency/employer. All without comment or censure. This experience, several years ago, and the sense that to complain would jeopardise student opportunities,  started my research. Wonder whether it will come up in Australia?

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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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