Public Relations and Spin: A Slippery Slope

If you’ve been studying your Public Relations (PUR3000) lately – and even if you haven’t – you’ve probably seen plenty of examples of “spin” at work in the communication world. We’re talking about communication that is manipulative, misleading, incomplete, or flat-out false. And it poses some major ethical problems, both for those in the communication field as well as those who receive these messages. Interpreting “spin” in media, and not letting the “spin” spin us out, is a central component of media literacy – learning to think critically about the media messages around us.

Writing online for Forbes, Cheryl Conner discusses the practice of spin in the fields of public relations, journalism, advertising, politics, and more. (The link is here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2014/02/13/the-death-of-spin-will-it-kill-the-future-of-public-relations/.) Conner mentions a few topics that have been discussed (or will be discussed) during the typical journey of a converged communicator: Printing content backed by sponsors without disclosure, deception or false identity on social media, using spam e-mail disguised as legitimate messages. The list goes on, and most of us have seen these practices at work. The article discusses ways that spin is found all around our world today, and calls on professionals working in the journalism, PR, and advertising fields to resolve to squelch spin in their messages. It’s worth a look.

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