The PR industry in Australia "employs more than 10,000 people and turns over more than $1 billion a year," writes the Center for Media and Democracy's Bob Burton, drawing on research published in his new book, "Inside Spin." While some PR campaigns are beneficial or harmless, others "smother dissenting points of view and degrade the quality of our democracy," he warns. Burton gives the example of a Melbourne think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs. "When the Sydney advocacy group Aid/Watch was stripped recently of its tax-deductibility status, it became the first victim of an institute campaign to curb non-government groups. What the institute hadn't publicly disclosed was that the campaign was bankrolled by corporations, including the Tasmanian woodchipping company Gunns." Burton advocates for more citizen "spinbusters," along with better freedom of information laws, regular reporting on PR, and real regulation -- not self-regulation -- of the PR industry.
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