Public relations, political communications and national news production in Britain 1979-1999

Davis, Aeron. 2000. Public relations, political communications and national news production in Britain 1979-1999. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This study looks at the recent rise of the public relations profession and its influence
on national news production in Britain. Simply put, has public relations undermined
the notion of the fourth estate media in Britain and has it advantaged certain kinds of
news source over others?
The thesis breaks down into three parts. The first part documents the rise of public
relations in Britain, its profile, and distribution amongst a range of institutions and
organisations. The developing public relations and media industries are compared
and the literature, on the relations between 'news sources', PR practitioners and
journalists, is critically evaluated. The second part focuses on corporate public
relations generally and, more specifically, on financial and City PR. Industry and
fieldwork data are contrasted with radical and liberal accounts of media-corporate
source relations. The findings suggest that corporate PR has had limited success in
influencing mainstream news but been considerably more adept at managing
specialist news sections. It is thus argued that PR has benefited the corporate sector,
less by influencing journalists and the general public, and more by excluding them.
This pattern is supported with a detailed case study involving Granada's take-over of
Forte in 1995/96. The third part discusses 'resource-poor' and 'outsider' groups -
more specifically, British trade unions. Fieldwork data is used to test radical and
pluralist accounts of the coverage of such groups in the mass media. The findings
argue that unions have found new ways to increase their media access using PR - and
with rather more success than earlier studies suggested. The conclusion is borne out
by a case study of the UCW's (Union of Communication Workers) successful PR
campaign to halt Post Office privatisation in 1994. Finally, the separate findings of
the thesis are used to develop a fuller description of how public relations affects
media production and news source access.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Additional Information:

Funded by ESRC (R00429824372)


PR; Journalism; Corporate; Financial; City Management Literature Mass media Performing arts Political science Public administration

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Media, Communications and Cultural Studies > Goldsmiths Leverhulme Media Research Centre



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

14 Jan 2016 09:23

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 13:52


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