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Public relations ethics – the early history of the code of Athens.

Watson, T., 2013. Public relations ethics – the early history of the code of Athens. In: Ethical dimensions of Media History: European Perspectives, 9--10 May 2013, Bournemouth University.

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In 1965, the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) adopted an International Code of Ethics, which became known as the Code of Athens, as its statement of public relations ethics. The Code reflected the hopeful, post-World War 2 ethical framework with its linkage to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948. It was the first international code of ethics enacted in the public relations field. Many public relations leaders of the time saw public relations as a force for social progress and a bulwark against oppressive regimes in the Communist world and military dictatorships. A code of ethics was an early imperative of IPRA which came into being 10 years earlier. It came after a Code of Conduct, adopted in 1961, which was known as the Code of Venice. Both codes were adopted by CERP and several national public relations associations and widely promoted. Using sources from the IPRA archive, the paper explores the evolution of the Code, its implementation and modification. A feature of the debate within IPRA about the Code was whether it was a statement of ideals to which members should aspire or a statement of standards. The view of prominent IPRA members from Anglo-American countries was that the Code, while laudable, was unenforceable. There are, however, no archived records of disciplinary action against members. The paper will also consider the practice implications of preparing and implementing universal ethical statements in public relations and allied communication fields.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Code of Athens ; Ethics ; IPRA ; Public Relations
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:20833
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:01 May 2013 10:43
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:47


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