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

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

The seminars occur on a Friday afternoon from 3-4 pm in Room 601 in the Michie Building (#9).

Semester 2, 2017 Seminars & Workshops

 

Friday, 2 March
3-4pm

Construction of Asylum Seekers

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Stephen Crofts

Friday, 9 March
3-4pm

Workshop: Metrics for Grant Writing and Promotion

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Angela Hannan and Kathleen Smeaton
(UQ Library)

Friday, 16 March
3-4pm

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Ewa Lajer-Burcharth
(Harvard University)

Friday, 23 March
3-4pm

Robert Smithton exhibition at UQ Art Museum

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Amelia Barikin

Friday, 20 April
3-4pm

Rise of "Bright Noir": Redemption and Moral Optimism in American Contemporary TV-Noir

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Alberto Garcia
(University of Navarra)

 

Friday, 27 April
3-4pm

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Prof. Murray Pomerance (tbc)
Friday, 4 May
3-4pm

Paul Lazarsfeld and Facebook: Re-Reading Personal Influence in an Age of Social Media

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Prof Tom O'Regan
Friday 18 May
3-4pm

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Skye Doherty
Friday, 1 June
3-4pm

The Digital Face in Cinema, Technology, Cultural Reception

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Lisa Bode