Are journalists unethical for republishing press releases without attribution?

If I intend on writing a longer article I will often use press releases as a good starting point to gather more information and decide on what questions to follow up on with the PR spokesperson who initially sent the press release. It’s quite lazy to simply repost or cut and paste a press release as is. Under the journalism code of ethics, journalists have an obligation to the truth as well as to serve the public interest. These ethics are somewhat compromised by lazy reporting and publishing content “as is.”

The crafting of a press release goes through the rigorous process[4] of several revisions and approval from the heads of the company a PR practitioner represents. While pulling content directly from a press release can help aid in accuracy that information is most likely biased and is never written from an objective standpoint. If a journalist simply republishes as press release with the only change being the author of the piece, it also goes against the ethic of objectivity.

At the end of the day journalists should use press releases as a starting point for research or the basis of a potential article. Cutting and pasting content is lazy and can potentially violate several ethical standpoints in the journalism code of ethics. If content is pulled from a press release, it should at the very least be properly attributed as being pulled from the press release.

Do you think it’s unethical for journalists to republish press releases or pull content without proper attribution? As a PR practitioner, would you be fine with your press release being republished without attribution? Should journalists perform due diligence and only use press releases as a general starting point for an article? Does the ethical code for both professions need to be updated to include permission to republish content and would this revision conflict with the journalism code of ethics as it stands?  Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments section below!


  1. ^ was fired (
  2. ^ was quoted (
  3. ^ according to (
  4. ^ rigorous process (
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