Garland, Ruth. 2025. Spin. In: A Nai and M Gromping, eds. Encyclopedia of Political Communication. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. [Book Section] (In Press)

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Abstract or Description

The term spin is thought to have originated as part of political reporting during the US Presidential campaign of 1984. With the development of the permanent campaign under conditions of 24/7 media, it came to mean the manipulation of the news agenda by governments for partisan purposes. This facilitated the institutionalization of public relations (PR) as part of the governing process. The demonized ‘spin doctor’ acts as a convenient scapegoat for journalists who resent their declining influence. After the election of Donald Trump in 2016 post-truth politics was seen by some as an evolution of spin, while others claim it represents a more troubling paradigm shift that denies the symbolic authority of truth. More recently spin has been implicated in the repositioning of dictatorships and the spread of ‘manufactured indignation’ by religious traditionalists. The meaning of spin has diversified but it remains a versatile and widely used term in academia and colloquial speech that can be summarized as a biased and self-advantaging form of public communication.

Item Type:

Book Section


Spin; public relations; post-truth; disinformation; government; democracy

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies > Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy
Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


29 April 2024Accepted

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

01 May 2024 12:40

Last Modified:

01 May 2024 15:42



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