University of Hertfordshire

  • Ruth Garland
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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017
EventInternational History of Public Relations conference 2017 - Bournemouth University, UK, Bournemouth, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Jul 20176 Oct 2017


ConferenceInternational History of Public Relations conference 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


This paper presents the findings of an empirical analysis of the institutional dynamics that operate at the interface between government and the media, taking the UK between 1997 and 2014 as a case study. Using in-depth interviews with civil servants, journalists and special advisers, and archival and documentary analysis, it asks how, during a crucial period of media change, the UK government communications service navigated between its public service core values, and the increasingly mediated democratic public sphere. The narrative of political spin asserts that, as media become more intrusive, governments become increasingly prone to self-advantaging and therefore untrustworthy forms of public communication. This paper argues that it is not enough to blame ‘spin doctors’ and concludes that communications professionals must be given the autonomy to ensure that they can use professional judgment to deploy the full range of communications tools, techniques and approaches aimed at reaching all citizens, not just the channels which seem expedient for short-term political survival.

ID: 15480861