Media, political and legal discourses liberally use the term ‘the public interest’ as a justification for an act or outcome that has an over-riding public good. But what exactly is ‘the public interest’? In New South Wales alone, the term ‘the public interest’ is included in almost 200 Legislative Acts (Wheeler 2006: 22) but, almost without exception, the term is not defined. Pervasive, but poorly understood, and mysterious in its own way, the public interest is described as “one of the most used terms in the lexicon of public administration, [but] it is arguably the least defined and least understood” (Wheeler 2006: 12).

This seminar paper examines the public interest as it relates to public relations and communication, but also, more broadly, as it exists within related discourses surrounding social capital, law and political philosophy. The presentation is illustrated with narratives and case studies that take the audience from West Africa, to Helsinki, to the Australian outback, to the Republic of Ireland, and to the world’s largest online encyclopedia.

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A/Professor Jane Johnston’s book Public Relations and the Public Interest is published by Routledge (2016) and a follow-up journal article Public interest: A new way of thinking for public relations? is in press. Her next book on the topic, co-edited with Magda Pieczka from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, draws together a collection of leading international scholars to continue the exploration of the public interest across a range of social, political and economic systems. Johnston’s interdisciplinary research explores public relations, media, communication, law and justice – often at their various intersections.  She consults to government and the courts on justice communication.

About Research Seminar and Workshop Series

 


School of Communication and Arts Research Seminar Series

The research seminar and workshop series occur each semester, each with a different topic and guest speaker from UQ or otherwise.

Friday, 12 August
12-1pm

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

Queering Dark Academic within a New Adult Fiction ContextShaun Stephen

Friday, 19 August
12-1pm

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

Landscape Symbolism and the Two Paths Through Life

Mike Levy

Friday, 16 September
12-1pm

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

We Are All Preppers Now: Doomsday preppers, climate activists and subcultures of imminent collapse.

Dr Tom Doig

Friday, 14 October
12-1pm

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

Questioning Criticism: Puzzles and Possibilities in the Art-form of Appreciation

Prof. Jason Jacobs

Dr Ted Nannicelli

Dr Elliot Logan

Dr Matthew Cipa

Friday, 4 November
3-5pm

SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

Discursive Disruption, Populist Communication and Democracy

Dr Elena Block

Friday, 2 December
1-2pm

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

Play as research and pedagogical strategyDr Jasper van Vught (Utretcht University)

 

Venue

Room: 
Room 601, level 6, Michie Building (#9)