Academic journal article Journalism History

The Father of Spin: Edward L Bernays & the Birth of Public Relations

Academic journal article Journalism History

The Father of Spin: Edward L Bernays & the Birth of Public Relations

Article excerpt

Tye, Larry. The Father of Spin: Edward L Bernays & The Birth of Public Relations. New York: Crown Publishers, 1998. 265 pp. $27.50.

The author uses Edward L. Bernays's life as a prism to view the development of public relations and its growing influence on American society. The book is based on interviews and primary sources, including Bernays's private papers, which became publicly available after his death in 1995 at 103. He was one of the first and most vocal advocates for public relations, an endeavor that today helps define society's choices and shape its political discussion.

Larry Tye, an environmental and medical journalist with the Boston Globe, began work on this book as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He provides a well-- documented narrative that reveals important insights into how public relations practitioners began using the power of the mass media in the 1920s to influence public opinion and persuade audiences to change their behavior.

Bernays, Sigmund Freud's nephew, drew on his uncle's work to help manipulate the way people form opinions. As Tye demonstrates, Bernays's methods met with a great deal of success, although the ethics of his actions are brought into serious question. For example, he was often successful in persuading the press to cover his events. One of his master techniques was to use front groups designed to conceal the actual sponsoring organization.

The author relates in some detail examples of Bernays's classic campaigns, including promotions to transform bacon and eggs into the all-American breakfast, to make Ivory the soap of choice for a generation, and to put Calvin Coolidge back into the White House. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.