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Organised lying and professional legitimacy: public relations’ accountability in the disinformation debate

Edwards, Lee (2020) Organised lying and professional legitimacy: public relations’ accountability in the disinformation debate. European Journal of Communication. ISSN 0267-3231 (In Press)

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Abstract

The role of the PR industry in the disinformation debate has been largely overlooked, while an emphasis has been put on the responsibilities of platforms, media organisations and audiences to monitor content and eliminate fake news. In contrast, this paper argues that disinformation and fake news are well-established tools in PR work and are implicated in the current crisis. Drawing on an exploratory study of UK industry publications about fake news and disinformation, the paper shows that public relations has addressed disinformation as a commercial opportunity and a platform for demonstrating professional legitimacy. Their narratives position professional practice ethical, trustworthy and true, while simultaneously ‘othering’ dubious practices and normalising ‘organised lying’. The paper concludes by arguing that the fight against disinformation must take seriously the impact of public relations, if it is to be effective.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://journals.sagepub.com/home/ejc
Additional Information: © 2020 The Author
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2020 13:00
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2020 15:12
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/106161

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