Ethical convergence, divergence or communitas? An examination of public relations and journalism codes of ethics

Elsevier BV
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Public Relations Review, 2016, 42, (1), pp. 146-160
Issue Date:
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© 2015. In a fully functioning society, citizens need information about economic, social, and political issues. The news media perform this function. Citizens also need to engage in relationships with all sorts of economic, social, and political organizations. Public relations helps to create, maintain and change these relationships. Journalism and public relations are the foundation of a fully functioning society. This article explores the extent to which journalism and public relations professionals share foundational values. We compare the codes of ethics from 33 countries (66 public relations and journalist associations) looking for both convergence and divergence in ethical values. Our findings suggest that the two professions share core values such as professionalism, expertise and moral standards. The codes agree on the individual qualities that encourage professionals to act ethically. The codes diverge, however, on each profession’s view of its role in society. Journalists continue to emphasize duty to the public in their codes of ethics whereas many public relations codes focus on duty to the client or organization. Yet, this study found an evolving set of ethical codes in public relations that brings public relations and journalists closer together acknowledging their communitas roles in a fully functioning society.
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