Pulitzer Prize Winners (RGM JOUR 4250)

By Sarah Copeland

I recently attended an event held at my university to recognize Pulitzer prize winners who are alumnae of the university. There were ten participants who came to sit on panels during the event and answer questions about their experiences. The event was divided into two segments. The first half featured the first panel of five Pulitzer finalists. The second half featured five alumni Pulitzer prize winners: Leana Allen, Kerry Gunnels, Dan Malone, Gayle Reaves and David Klement.

Pulitzer Winners Dan Malone, David Klement, Gayle Reaves, Kerry Gunnels and Leona Allen (from left to right)

All ten of these journalists had incredible experiences to share. They dealt with stories that center around the main issues within our culture as well as cultures around the world. One of the alumni described their role as an “act of bearing witness.” This description really resonated with me personally. The role of a journalist is indeed to witness and retell to the public, and these specific journalists have had the job of retelling very difficult stories. Some of the main topics centered around the Black Lives Matter movement, sex trafficking in Thailand and other racist or sexist topics.

“Everyone is different and has a different story,” Finalist Melissa Boughton said. “Never go into a story with a preconceived notion.” This piece of advice means so much more coming from this journalist. She, like several other alumni present at the event, have worked on stories centered on the current racial issues occurring in America. Her job is to get both sides of the story and report the truth told by her source.

Why do these journalists take up such difficult beats? Why do they follow such controversial, emotional topics? Because they have a responsibility to public service. They report the truth and tell these stories in order to get the response the stories deserve. These journalists hope to get responses like, “That’s just wrong!” or, “That’s not right.” If they induce those types of responses then they have done their job well.

These journalists won the Pulitzer prize because they publicized issues that need attention. They didn’t shy away from difficult subjects but fully embraced them in order to retell the difficult stories to others. These journalists call attention to the bad things going on in the world, not to highlight negativity, but to encourage change. Because of these journalists, wrongs that occur in society don’t go unnoticed.




Domestic Violence and Perceptions (JOUR RGM 4250)

By Sarah Copeland

My last blog for my Race, Gender and the Media course discussed women’s misrepresentation in the media. Many women, including myself, can start heated arguments concerning the topic of gender equality and I won’t say that writing the previous blog wasn’t extremely easy. I have a lot to say, and many examples to bring up, when discussing sexism. However, for this blog, I’m on the other side. This time, I’ll be writing about domestic violence.

Did you know that the number of women convicted of perpetrating domestic abuse has more than quadrupled in the past ten years from 806 (2004/05) to 4,866 (2014/15)? And male victims are over twice as likely than women to keep their domestic suffering a secret? This is based on a March 2016 Mankind Initiative key facts document.

Here’s another wow-factor: There are only 18 organisations that offer refuge/safe house provision for male victims (in the UK) while there are nearly 400 specialist domestic violence organisations for women. (Stats provided by Male Initiative based in the UK). Why is this not more equal?  According to more statistics, for every three victims of partner abuse, two will be women and one will be male. With that data, to be helpful to their customer population, there should be nearly 200 organisations equipt to help male victims. And they only have 18 available.

I stumbled across this video (linked/posted below) a while ago and still find it relevant. It was published in 2014, so the data may be slightly off. This video shows how people are more likely to believe that women are in an abusive relationship than they can believe a man is in an abusive relationship. Actors, plus hidden cameras, show that people will come to the woman’s defense if they see a man is abusive. However, people think it’s funny when the situation is reversed. You can see people on the sidelines smiling while the female actor beats up on the male actor.

I’m not at all saying that women do not get abused because I know that they do and that it is a terrible thing to endure. However, I do believe that not enough attention goes to men that experience the same violence. Bystanders could easily assume that a man is abusive based on his remarks and physical conduct with his partner. But, when the situation is reversed, bystanders have thoughts along the lines of “he probably deserves it.” But they would never say that about a woman being abused.

There is a difference between a person, male or female, standing up for themselves and a person causing mental and physical abuse. The Mankind Initiative makes a good point: violence is violence. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female. No one deserves to be the subject of domestic abuse.


ElRhoul, A. (2014, June 03). Domestic Violence Video Against Men Abuse advert Mankind Woman attacking man in street. Retrieved October, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzfLVyNHJgQ

Mankind Initiative. (2016, March). Male victims of domestic and partner abuse 30 key facts. Retrieved October, 2016, from http://new.mankind.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/30-Key-Facts-Male-Victims-Mar-2016.pdf

Last Semester, New Concepts (RGM JOUR 4250)

By Sarah Copeland

Hello! It’s been a while since my last blog post, but for good reason! This past summer I have been very busy at my very first internship.I had a great experience and learned so much. Now I’m back in classes and writing more blogs for a Race, Gender and the Media course I’m currently taking.

Over these past few weeks, we have discussed a series of difficult topics and addressed issues we see  in the media and throughout society. WARNING: some topics are incredibly difficult to discuss and I will only be sharing my personal opinion on these matters. I completely understand if those reading this will disagree. I’m only a student, and this is only my opinion.

This first blog will be about the representation of women.

Women have come a long way since the 1950s. Instead of being housewives, women are now front and center in the business world and politics. Roles for women have extended. And yet, there are still ways that women are held back through real life limitations as well as representations  in the media. Here are some examples of clear sexism in our society.

The Rio Olympics ended months ago, however, we can still use the games to represent the “gold ceiling” that women are subject to when it comes to athletic ability. It’s hard to find women competing at the same level as men in several sports. Tennis seems to be the big exception to that, but there is still sexism present in that sport which I will discuss shortly. A Wall Street Journal article (linked above) describes how women cannot compete in certain events because they are not men. The best example is Katie Ledecky, the gold medalist swimmer.

A Wall Street Journal article (linked above) describes how women cannot compete in certain events because they are not men. The best example is Katie Ledecky, the gold medalist swimmer. Though Ledecky is faster than other swimmers in the 1500-meter swim, she is not allowed to race in that event since women are not included in that race. The longest race for women is 800 meters while men can race the 1500 meters. Sports, including the Olympics, should not be divided by sex, it should be divided by ability.

Another swimmer, Katinka Hosszu, was also misrepresented and outshined by her husband/coach. Hosszu made monumental accomplishments during the Rio Olympics. She set world records and won several gold medals. However, each of her victories was credited to her husband/coach when reported in the media.  This Odyssey article makes strong points about how women in sports are clearly undervalued while men are simply given full credit. When compared, reporting of sports coverage for men is simply that, coverage. However, reports on women focus on their “sexuality instead of their skill.” Why does it matter what makeup a female athlete is wearing when a male athlete is only asked about his career?

Like I said above, tennis is not excluded from this sexist representation. BBC interviewer,  John Inverdale provides multiple examples of how every sport can be sexist. After Andy Murray won a gold medal for the second time in a row in men’s singles, Inverdale congratulates him. Inverdale is quoted as saying: “You’re the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals. That’s an extraordinary feat, isn’t it?” But Murray isn’t actually the first, and Murray points out the interviewer’s flaw. Actually, the Williams sisters (*female athletes) have won four gold medals. But this interviewer didn’t care to think about the accomplishments of women.

There are endless examples of women misrepresentation, especially throughout the Olympics. I only mentioned a couple of examples, though there are plenty more. Sexism is huge in the media and not only toward women. The LGBTQ community (and even men, really) are also heavily misrepresented at times. Why is gender so important when it comes to reporting information? Coverage shouldn’t be sexist, it should be factual and informative.


Helliker, K., & Futterman, M. (2016, August 05). At the Rio Olympics, Women Athletes Bump Against a Gold Ceiling. Retrieved October 03, 2016, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/at-the-rio-olympics-women-athletes-bump-against-a-gold-ceiling-1470425132

Moxley, C. (2016, August 8). Misrepresentation of Olympic Proportions. Retrieved October 3, 2016, from https://www.theodysseyonline.com/misrepresentation-olympic-proportions

WATCH: Andy Murray Reminds Interviewer That Women Win Gold, Too. (2016, August 15). Retrieved October 03, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/sections/thetorch/2016/08/15/490056480/watch-andy-murray-reminds-interviewer-that-women-win-gold-too



Integrity is Everything

By: Sarah Copeland

It’s no secret. Going into the field of PR is going to be tough. Of course, many of our friends and family won’t exactly understand what we do for a living, but hopefully, they can also understand the difficulties we face. There will be many choices to make, and the hardest one will be a personal choice. Do I want to keep a job at a company who has policies and practices I don’t agree with? Or should I go with honesty and integrity?

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I’ve always been a person with high integrity. My peers would probably say the same thing if asked about me. Integrity has just been a characteristic I could never ignore. I always had to do my best no matter what. And now, in several of my courses actually, I hear how, at some point in PR, I may be asked to do my job but not agree with the methods asked of me.

Of course, this does not describe every PR career. I spent an entire blog talking about how PR is NOT spin and how it can be a very respectable field. And it can be. So, as my last blog for my PR communications course, I want to talk about how, in my future, I’ll hold on to my values and keep my integrity throughout my career.


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Remaining honest and maintaining integrity has a lot to do with ethics. I’m not going to be too detailed about ethics and PR mainly because I already have a blog about that topic. But they are extremely well-connected topics.

In the end, it’s all about credibility and staying true to your own values. And this doesn’t just concern PR specialists. Being transparent and trustworthy are important qualities for companies to possess in order to be trusted by publics. Trust is so important in PR that even Edelman has a whole PowerPoint dedicated to measuring trust.

It’s incredibly difficult to express how important all of this is in the long run. Integrity and trust build or break relationships. There is so much that our career demands from those of us going into the PR field. There are plenty of individuals who have left companies and started their own business so that they can keep their integrity. Honestly, I’m glad that is an option.

I’ll end with a lesson that has been taught to me this entire semester: You should love what you do and if you don’t you need to make a change. Keep your honor and your integrity in your career because it’s up to you to decide how you want to do things.



Duren, M. (2014, February 04). Is Integrity A Lost Currency in Public Relations? | Fashion PR Public Relations | PR Couture. Retrieved May 05, 2016, from http://www.prcouture.com/2014/02/integrity-a-lost-currency-in-public-relations/

Edleman. (2016, January 17). 2016 Edelman TRUST BAROMETER – Global Results. Retrieved May 05, 2016, from http://www.slideshare.net/EdelmanInsights/2016-edelman-trust-barometer-global-results

Fisherhouse. (n.d.). Honesty, Integrity and Ethics in Public Relations. Retrieved May 5, 2016, from http://www.fisherhouse.com/courses/honesty.pdf

Jack, S. (n.d.). Public Relations. Retrieved May 5, 2016, from https://www.pinterest.com/shebejack/public-relations/

Minton-Taylor, R. (2015, April 28). Integrity and trust (part one). Retrieved May 05, 2016, from http://www.behindthespin.com/features/integrity-and-trust-part-one

Minton-Taylor, R. (2015, May 04). Integrity and trust (part two). Retrieved May 05, 2016, from http://www.behindthespin.com/news/integrity-and-trust-part-two

Minton-Taylor, R. (2015, May 08). Integrity and trust (part three). Retrieved May 05, 2016, from http://www.behindthespin.com/features/integrity-and-trust-part-three

Print Consultancy. (n.d.). Retrieved May 05, 2016, from http://pr-int.net/


Ethics is as Ethics Does


By: Sarah Copeland

Ethics pic 1 Image Source

I’m never sure what leads someone to make a bad decision, especially when the decision is obviously bad. Is it desperation that leads someone to do unethical things? Or do they just flat-out not care about their actions? More than anything I wonder how people still think that they can get away with their bad actions. At least in the field of public relation, people who make unethical decisions almost always get caught.

However, I think a problem arises when considering that, when it comes to ethics, everyone has a different opinion. Another problem is that the idea of “right” and “wrong” is not black and white. A grey area exists.

To help fix that problem, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has a special code of ethics designed for professionals in the PR field.  This code of ethics helps navigate the grey area of issues that require important decisions. However, it is important to remember that the best way to practice PR is to remain honest and transparent and, well, ethical.

There are people that believe PR professionals have no morals and have a career based on their skills at lying. There is no short list of examples of unethical practitioners that perpetuate this belief. Something to keep in mind, though, is that there is no amount of money that can make an unethical decision worth a good reputation. Money can be earned and lost easily, your reputation, though, cannot be so easily recovered.

ethics pic 2





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Here are a few questions that PR practitioners will be faced with in their career:

Would I lie for my employer in order to promote a product that I know cannot do what it is invented to do?

Will I issue a news release with only partial truth?

Will I talk bad about the competition in order to promote my client?

Would I quit my job rather than participate in a questionable activity?

In short, how far can a PR professional compromise their personal morals whilst doing their job? Sometimes they are even faced with harder choices. What is worse is that jobs are becoming more and more difficult to maintain. Unemployment is a possible result of choosing the ethical route.

Sometimes in PR and even everyday life, difficult issues come up and require hard choices. In the end, it’s up to the individual to make the right or wrong decision. When it comes to making a hard choice I usually think about what would be best for everyone. There is a question that people can ask themselves to help make hard decisions easier: what would my mother think of me if I made this decision? This works really well, at least for me. My mom taught me how to have good morals and I hope that will keep me on the right path throughout my career.


Bowen, S. (2007, October 30). Ethics and Public Relations | Institute for Public Relations. Retrieved February 26, 2016, from http://www.instituteforpr.org/ethics-and-public-relations/

Ethical Guidance for Today’s Public Relations Practitioners from PRSA. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2016, from https://www.prsa.org/aboutprsa/ethics/#.Vs9IhPkrLIU

Jamison, A. (2013, September 9). Are you familiar with the PRSA Code of Ethics? Retrieved February 26, 2016, from http://payonperformance.ning.com/profiles/blogs/are-you-familiar-with-the-prsa-code-of-ethics

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Member Code of Ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2016, from https://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/CodeEnglish/index.html#.Vs_rDfkrLIU

Reputation management. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2016, from https://ethicsinpr.wikispaces.com/Reputationmanagement

W.(2008, January). Public Relations: The Ethical Dilemma. Retrieved February 26, 2016, from http://prethicaldilemma.blogspot.com/