The Paradox of Public Interest: How Serving Individual Superior Interests Fulfill Public Relations' Obligation to the Public Interest

Journal of Mass Media Ethics 27 (1):31-45 (2012)
Since the early 20th century, advocates of public relations professionalism have mandated that practitioners serve the public interest making it an ethical standard for evaluating the morality of public relations practice. However, the field has devoted little research to determining just what it means for practitioners to serve the public interest. Most research suggests practice-oriented solutions. This article focuses what practitioners must do to serve the public interest. It reviews theories of the social contract and the public interest to identify an approach to serving the public interest that will help practitioners reconcile moral obligations to themselves, their client organizations, and the public. It concludes that combining superior individual interests with John Dewey's public philosophy will contribute to the moral development and improvement of practitioners and the public.
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