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PR must die: Spin, anti-spin and political public relations in the UK, 1997 - 2004

McNair, B. (2005) PR must die: Spin, anti-spin and political public relations in the UK, 1997 - 2004. Journalism Studies, 5 (3). pp. 325-338. ISSN 1461-670X

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Abstract

This essay critically assesses the 'demonology of spin' which has dominated British political journalism, and academic writing on public relations since the rise of New Labour in the 1990s. It reviews the history of British political public relations (PR), and traces the emergence of journalistic hostility to the professional communication practices of New Labour in government. This 'demonology' is viewed in the context of the professional rivalry born of mutual interdependence between PR practitioners and political journalists, and assessed as an inevitable consequence of that competition. While arguing for ethical constraints on both PR and journalistic professionals, the article concludes that an adversarial relationship between both groups is an important safeguard against the excesses of either.