Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Bonnie Riechert

Committee Members

Paul Ashdown, James Crook, Suzanne Kurth


A complex relationship exists between journalists and public relations practitioners. Indeed, the literature indicates that despite differences in perceptions, both professions are mutually dependent and share co-operative, albeit conditional relationships. Despite practitioners' efforts to improve their industry and the quality of material they release, some journalists continue to harbor suspicions about them. A number of researchers claim that this supports the view that prejudice against public relations is not simply due to negative personal experiences with practitioners themselves, but rather it is rooted in journalism culture. In light of this claim and given that public relations curricula often operate in conjunction with journalism schools in higher education, this study explores public relations and journalism educators' attitudes towards public relations in more detail. A web-based, self-administered survey was circulated to both journalism and public relations educators, with a view to gleaning valuable responses from respondents. The research explored respondents' attitudes toward public relations in both a professional and educational setting, and whether a significant difference in the levels of coorientation (congruency, agreement and accuracy) exists between the two groups. Attribution and coorientation theories were combined to explore whether coorientational discrepancies exist between these two groups, and if so, why. It was hypothesized that the three causal dimensions of attribution (locus, stability and external controllability) would affect respondents' levels of coorientation (especially accuracy) and their subsequent attitude towards one another in predictable ways.

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