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Fifth Estate
Fifth estate

The phrase ‘fifth estate’ was coined by Tom Baistow in his classic text Fourth Rate Estate: An Anatomy of Fleet Street to describe the expansive public relations industry in the UK and what he believed to be the undesirable consequences of such growth (Baistow, 1985: 67–76). Drawing on the idea of the press and news media as a fourth estate of the realm, an indispensable critic and watchdog holding government publicly accountable for its actions, Baistow claimed that a fifth estate of public relations and marketing specialists was being deployed by political and economic elites to obscure and offset the critical oversight which journalists previously provided to protect the public interest. ‘Everyone from the Prime Minister to the latest rock star, and not ...

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