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Fröhlich, Romy; Koch, Thomas and Obermaier, Magdalena Katharina (October 2013): What's the harm in moonlighting? A qualitative survey on the role conflicts of freelance journalists with secondary employment in the field of PR. In: Media, Culture & Society, Vol. 35, No. 7: pp. 809-829 [PDF, 1MB]

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There seems to be an internationally shared consensus on the ethical norm that journalists may not moonlight' for PR since this might conflict with their commitment to autonomy, truth, neutrality and objectivity. However, there is a gap between the normative demands on freelance journalists and the reality of their occupation: The changing world of professional working conditions is challenging journalists and has led to growing numbers of freelance journalists who also work for PR. Whether or not, and if so how freelance journalists with secondary employment in the field of PR perceive and come to terms with conflicts has not yet been thoroughly examined. This contribution is dedicated to this gap in research and asks how freelance journalists who simultaneously work in the field of PR deal with their fundamentally conflicting roles (journalists' perception of inter-role conflicts; how they cope with inter-role conflicts). We conducted semi-structured guided interviews with 18 freelance journalists simultaneously working for PR clients. Our results show that they are aware of the potential for conflict involved in fulfilling the two roles. All participants are inclined to preserve their professional self-concept as journalists, with regard to which the coping strategies of marginalization and merging roles are particularly indicative.

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