Title page for ETD etd-11052012-222144

Type of Document Dissertation
Author McCollough, Christopher Jon
Author's Email Address mccollough_christopher@columbusstate.edu
URN etd-11052012-222144
Title Pressures, Centralization, Economics, Technology, and Ethics: Factors that Impact Public Information Officer – Journalist Relationships
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Mass Communication
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Broussard, Jinx C. Committee Chair
Kurpius, David Committee Member
Song, Felicia Wu Committee Member
Weil, Rick Committee Member
Richardson, Malcolm Dean's Representative
  • Public Relations
  • Government Communication
  • Journalism
  • Journalistic Norms and Routines
  • Relationship Management Theory
  • Contingency Theory for the Accommodation of Publi
  • Situational Theory of Publics
  • Social Network Theory
  • State Governments
  • Political Journalism
Date of Defense 2012-11-02
Availability unrestricted
A study of public information officers (PIOs) in three states and the journalists that cover state government finds five primary factors that shape the working relationships between both groups. Institutional pressures on both PIOs and journalists impact the ability of both parties to meet the needs of the other party on a daily basis. High levels of centralization in state government communication limit the ability of PIOs to meet the needs of journalists, fostering journalists’ antagonism and a more combative working relationship. The economic decline of journalism is creating a dichotomous situation where PIOs can help journalists manage increasing demands on shrinking deadlines, or they can take advantage of growing limitations on journalists and abuse the relationships. Growing use of social and digital media are providing opportunities to help journalists be more efficient in performing daily tasks, but some journalists perceive of PIOs’ use of these tools as a source of competition for public attention. Straightforward, ethical practices by both parties that are grounded in candor help build trust over time and strengthen working relationships. These findings provide the basis for a new model for state government media relations that helps PIOs and journalists negotiate these factors to meet their shared responsibilities in co-creating an enlightened citizenry.
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