Universita della Svizzera italiana professor presents research at Northwestern University in Qatar

April 04, 2016

Stephan Russ-Mohl, professor of journalism and media management at the Italian University of Switzerland delivered a lecture at NU-Q, which addressed the relationship between public relations and journalism and their dependency on each other.

His research asks if the public is becoming more “disinformed” as a result of smarter public relation strategies. Using behavioural economics and social psychology, Russ-Mohl’s theory studies how public relations and journalism compete for the attention of media consumers, claiming that journalism is “disappearing” as it has become expensive.

Russ-Mohl is “a widely known and well respected scholar especially in media economics and management,” said Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO of NU-Q, who added, “that the research presented at NU-Q is especially important for student and media professionals as they consider the interplay between public relations objectives and concerned with those of news coverage and journalistic practice.”

As more media conglomerates takeover non-profitable news outlets, Russ-Mohl’s research has discovered that most media messages can be traced back to press releases. He also pointed to a news story published in The Guardian, which reported that there are four to five public relations professionals for every journalist.

“PR is in an upward spiral, while journalism is in a downward spiral,” he said. “Advertising has also moved online and has become more targeted to specific audiences -- there is much less money coming into newsrooms and traditional news media companies.”

Russ-Mohl also calls for public media literacy due to the success of advertisements and public relations strategies, which could be considered as “disinformation.” In the open discussion with faculty and students, Russ-Mohl suggested that media literacy classes could teach the consumers of new media how to deconstruct media strategies.

Russ-Mohl directs the European Journalism Observatory, a 10-language platform that fosters freedom of expression and research on media accountability. He has served as a visiting fellow at the University of Wisconsin (Madison); the European University Institute (Florence); the Department of Communication, Stanford University; and as a Gutenberg Fellow at the Research Focus Media Convergence of the University of Mainz.