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THE COMMUNICATIVE ACTION OF JOURNALISTS AND PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICERS

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Abstract:

Public information officers (PIOs) represent a type of communications professional distinct from public relations practitioners (PRPs). From a structural functionalist viewpoint, journalists and PIOs share goals: both see themselves as facilitating the information flow into the public sphere. Habermas' communicative action models defining journalists as committed to revealing the “whole truth” to the public, but PRPs as enmeshed in advocating private interests, do not adequately describe PIOs. Although journalists' and PIOs' goals are similar, barriers exist to inhibit their cooperation in achieving those mutual goals. Such barriers arise from academic ideal types fostering inaccurate perceptions of each other, perceptions reinforced by adaptive structuration within their respective organizations' cultures. Empirical data support that PIOs' and journalists' divergent attitudes about their professional praxis combine with ideal-type constructions and organizational cultures to produce communication disconnects between the two.
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