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Heather Kfoury

Dr. Joseph Sample

ENG 6303
7 August 2014

The Statehood Edition: An Analysis of Public Relations in Journalism

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The Hawaii statehood campaign was a massive, multi-faceted public relations effort from 1935 to
1959 to admit the Hawaiian Islands into the United States union (Smulyan 65; Dedmon 33). A
culmination of this 24-year endeavor was summed up in one newspaper printing by the Honolulu
Advertiser on 23 June 1959 the Statehood Edition.
This 12-section, 300-page special printing from one of Hawaiis once-major newspapers was
editorially managed by open supporters of Hawaii statehood (Chaplin 235-236). Because of time
limitations for this project, I am unable to conduct a complete assessment of all the messages, documents
and media released in favor of Hawaii statehood from 1935 to 1959. Instead, I analyzed one historical
document from this event Section I of the Honolulu Advertisers Statehood Edition, thought to be the
most important section in a newspaper according to the inverted pyramid theory practiced in journalism.
Prior to Hawaii becoming the fiftieth U.S. state on 21 August 1959, the Islands were a U.S.
territory following an overthrow of the local monarchy and illegal annexation of land in 1898. Due to the
social and political controversy surrounding Hawaiis membership into the U.S. that still exists today, it is
important to continue to examine the events leading to Hawaii becoming a U.S. state. I believe the
Statehood Edition is biased and contains questionable amounts of real journalism. The Statehood
Edition is a public relations piece designed to sway public opinion in favor of statehood. The purpose of
this research project is to determine which public relations model was most prevalent in the Statehood
The Four Models of Public Relations defined by James Grunig and Todd Hunt in their 1984
book (Grunig, Hunt 25) is what I compare the Statehood Edition to in order to determine which public
relations strategy was used. Grunig and Hunt are modern-day proponents of public relations
professionalism and argue that practitioners must have basic guiding ethical principles (Baskins,
Aronoff, and Lattimore 91). According to Grunig and Hunt, the Four Models of Public Relations are
Press Agentry/Publicity, Public Information, Two-Way Asymmetric, Two-Way Symmetric.
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Propaganda is one of the oldest forms of public relations tactics; used in the U.S. as early as the
American Revolution (Grunig, Hunt 17). Grunig and Hunt categorize the propaganda tactic under the
Press Agentry/Publicity Model (Grunig, Hunt 21).
What is propaganda? Edward Bernays was the first to actually answer this question even though
he was not the first to use propaganda methods. Bernays is considered to be a public relations pioneer
and instrumental in formulating the modern concept of public relations (Baskins, Aronoff, and
Lattimore 32, 101). Bernays not only wrote the first book defining and establishing propaganda as a
legitimate strategy, but is widely recognized as the man who fathered the science of spin (Tye viii).
According to Bernays, modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape
events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group (Bernays 52). He argues that
most Americans dont really create original ideas, but rather get their original ideas and personal opinions
from others in a rubber stamp method.
Newspapers are especially susceptible to propaganda because they are the mechanism by which
ideas are disseminated on a large scale (Bernays 48). In using propaganda as a public relations strategy,
Bernays finds newspapers to be instrumental because propaganda is simply the establishing of reciprocal
understanding between an individual and a group (Bernays 161):
The newspaper, of course, remains always a primary medium for the transmission of
opinions and ideas in other words, for propaganda. There is hardly a single item in
any daily paper, the publication of which does not, or might not profit or injure
somebody. That is the nature of news (Bernays 162).
In order to determine whether a news story is propaganda, Bernays says one must closely
examine the source (Bernays 51). Out of the 65 stories published in Section I of the Statehood Edition,
seven have a reporters byline, 15 have a specialists byline, and 43 have no author at all. The stories that
do have a reporters byline contain no quotes from sources or have any indication of where the
information was obtained. This is because the theme of Section I is historical, offering a bevy of stories
on the development of Hawaii from its days under monarchy rule to its admission into statehood.
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But whose history is being reported? It should be noted that Hawaii was not officially a U.S. state
until two months after the Statehood Edition was printed. More shocking, however, is the Statehood
Edition was printed four days before the plebiscite vote.
A plebiscite vote is a requirement under U.N. (United Nations) Resolution 742 stating that if a
country wants to admit a territory into their union, the citizens of that territory must have freedom of
choosing on the basis of the right of self determination of peoples between several possibilities including
independence. In other words, Hawaiis citizens had to vote in favor of statehood before the issue could
be presented to U.S. Congress for a vote.
By printing the Statehood Edition four days before the citizens of Hawaii even voted on the
issue is a prime example of incomplete, distorted or half-truth version of events. Even the name itself
Statehood Edition is falsely portraying information to the public by deeming Hawaii a state before it is.
This half-truth most likely influenced voters in favor of statehood because they would have considered
the issue imminent and moot. Headlines would later proclaim 94 percent of Hawaii voters voted in favor
of statehood. This is certainly true, but in actuality only 35 percent of eligible voters even made it to the
polls for the plebiscite (Dedmon 35).
The Honolulu Advertisers decision to print the Statehood Edition and proclaiming Hawaii as a
U.S. state four days before voters even decided on the issue is an example of propaganda.
In Bernays own words:
Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence
the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group. Virtually no important
undertaking is now carried on without it The important thing is that it is universal and
continuous; and in its sum total it is regimenting the public mind every bit as much as an
army regiments the bodies of its soldiers (Bernays 52).
The actual content of Section I can be better categorized under the Public Information Model with
the purpose of disseminating information, not necessarily with a persuasive intent. The public relations
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person functions essentially as a journalist in residence, whose job it is to report objectively information
about his organization to the public (Grunig, Hunt 21-22).
Since a majority of the stories in Section I have no author, no sources, and no attribution, it can be
assumed that it is the newspapers general view point being presented as fact. During the printing of the
Statehood Edition, the Honolulu Advertiser was managed by President and General Manager Lorrin P.
Thurston and Editor Ray Coll. Thurston and Coll both served on the Hawaii Statehood Commission, the
official public relations organization in Washington (Dedmon 33), and were featured on page 3 of the
Statehood Edition under a story titled Congress Probed Fair Hawaii to the Bone.
Author George Chaplin wrote about Thurstons and Colls involvement in the statehood
campaign in his book Presstime in Paradise:
Thurston never explained his turnabout on statehood from vigorous foe to dedicated
advocate. But Theon Wright, a former Advertiser staffer, says that although the reason for
Thurstons shift remained unclear, one report, partially confirmed by [Congressman
Delegate Jack] Burns indicated that [Burns] has spent several hours with Thurstons
editor, the late Ray Coll, and that it was Coll who persuaded Thurston that statehood was
inevitable and the Advertiser should change its stance and support it editorially. (Chaplin
This proves that Thurston and Coll were the public relations agents behind the Statehood
Edition and they acted as journalists in residence by presenting the history of Hawaii with only
positive slants toward the U.S. and the statehood campaign. There are no opposing opinions on statehood
present in the Statehood Edition, and it is hard highly unlikely that every person in Hawaii and the U.S.
were totally in favor of statehood. If this had been an unbiased example of journalism rather than a public
relations piece, both sides of the issue would have be offered to readers.
There is certainly hard historical fact in Section I, such as The Hawaiians: Howd They Get
Here? on page 7; Palace Was Focal Point of Island Monarchy on page 17; and a two-page printing of
the Hawaii Constitution on pages 10 and 11. These undeniable historical truths are seamlessly blended
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with stories of slanted truths, such as Hawaii Wears Battle Honors Proudly on page 9; Souls to be
Saved, So Missionaries Came on page 12; and Thurstons Played Key Part When Hawaii Changed
Status on page 29. By blending these two types of information dissemination, it becomes increasingly
difficult for the reader to distinguish between what is truth and what is half-truth.
The Thurstons Played Key Part When Hawaii Changed Status story on page 29 begs further
examination. The storys lead is as follows:
It was fitting that Lorrin P. Thurston, publisher of The Advertiser, should have been
chairman of Hawaiis Statehood Commission when Congress passed the Statehood bill.
His father, Lorrin A. Thurston, was one of the key figures in achieving the annexation of
the islands to the United States in 1898.
This is a curious report of Hawaiis annexation since it is widely known that Lorrin A. Thurston
led the illegal overthrow of Hawaiis monarchy and even called for the beheading of their queen. The
word choice of key and achieving imply this was a positive historical event when in fact it was
viewed by many Hawaii citizens in 1959 and today as a negative historical event.
It is not surprising the Honolulu Advertiser would use this public relations tactic in the
Statehood Edition since it was the foremost strategy practitioners used during this era. Ivy Lee,
considered the father of public relations, was well-known for employing the Public Information Model
and developed a publicity policy of the public be informed to replace the policy of the public be
damned (Grunig, Hunt 33). This would be a natural public relations tactic for a newspaper to choose.
Lee viewed the public as made up of rational human beings who, if they are given
compete and accurate information, would make the right decisions. He viewed the public
relations practitioner as equivalent to a lawyer in the court of public opinion the
publicist does not always question his clients motivation, but promotes the clients
interest as far as public opinion will permit. (Grunig, Hunt 34).
The two aforementioned tactics, Press Agentry/Publicity and Public Information, only
disseminated information without public feedback. The last two models to be discussed, Two-Way
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Asymmetric and Two-Way Symmetric, conversely seek input from the public before and during the
formation of public relations strategies. I do not believe the Statehood Edition employed neither the
Two-Way Asymmetric nor Two-Way Symmetric models since there is no feedback from readers present
in Section I. The editors of the Statehood Edition could have included Letters to the Editor to meet the
requirements of these two models.
There are hundreds of more pages in the Statehood Edition that require a public relations
analysis. Even Section I provides additional topics of discussion, such as the correlation of advertisements
and the business stories reported, or the fact that five of the full-page advertisements in Section I were
paid for by Big Five companies, the catalyst companies who ignited the statehood campaign and were its
initial financial backers.
Based on my research of Hawaiis statehood campaign and the information in Section I of the
Statehood Edition, it is undeniable the editors of the Honolulu Advertiser used public relations mixed
with journalism in an attempt to sway public opinion in favor of statehood. The fact that the edition was
printed four days before voters had a chance to voice their opinion on statehood is indicative of
propaganda tactics. In addition, the half-truth historical events reported inside the edition show the
newspaper used a Public Information Model to present bias as fact.
The public relations tactics used during the statehood campaign worked far better than what the
men who fabricated the strategy could have imagined. Americas idea of Hawaii today continues to be the
same positive paradise image created decades ago. Yes, Hawaii is a beautiful and majestic place, but the
truth about its addition to the U.S. is voiced by few and continues to go unheard or is dismissed by the

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Annotated Bibliography

Baskin, Otis, Craig Aronoff, and Dan Lattimore. Public Relations: The Profession and the Practice.
4th ed. Boston: McGraw Hill, 1997. Print.
This text book is used for undergraduate public relations classes. It offers a broad overview of the
profession and various tools utilized by practitioners. I studied two chapters in this text. Chapter 2 (The
History of Public Relations) provides insight into the ideology of Edward Bernays and how public
relations tactics have evolved. Chapter 5 (Ethics and Professionalism) provides guidelines for ethical

Berger, Arthur. Media and Communication Research Methods. 2nd ed. California: Sage
Publications, 2011. Print
This text book is a comprehensive guide to quantitative and qualitative research methods in technical
communication. On pages 205-219, the author discusses the qualitative method of content analysis. The
main point the author makes is defining content analysis, pointing out the advantages and disadvantages
of using this method, and providing a list of steps to take when preparing to conduct a content analysis.
The author also outlines a possible content analysis scenario using TV violence, including possible coding

Bernays, Edward. Propaganda. Brooklyn: Ig Publishing, 1928. Print.
This is one of the first books written about public relations as a profession by pioneer Edward Bernays.
The author defines public relations as a form of propaganda while defending its use in American business
practices. The author also outlines ethical guidelines for practitioners to follow, and is the one of the first
to ever do so. While the guidelines are vague compared to todays more analytical versions, this book
provides a historical insight into how public relations tactics were utilized and defined during the Hawaii
statehood campaign.
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Chaplin, George. Presstime in Paradise: The Life and Time of The Honolulu Advertiser, 1856-1995.
Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1998. Print.
This book is a historical business story of the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper written by a former,
modern-day Advertiser editor. The author uses archival documents to piece together the newspapers
position on political and social issues throughout its years. The author also injects his opinion about
editorial choices the newspaper made. I studied chapter 27 (An About-Face on Statehood) in which the
author discusses the newspapers stance on the statehood campaign, the men behind the newspapers
editorial decisions, and how the Advertiser changed its tone from being against Hawaii statehood to
supporting it.

Dedmon, Donald. The Functions of Discourse in the Hawaiian Statehood Debates. Speech
Monographs 33:1 (1966) 30-39: Web. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
This scholarly article is highly informative in regards to the legislative efforts behind the Hawaii
statehood campaign. The author details a long-term educational and persuasive lobbying tactic used by
statehood supporters in Washington, D.C. The article agrees that the statehood campaign utilized public
relations strategies to gain support, and offers evidence in the form of political speeches and
congressional documents. Since this article was written in 1966, it offers valuable insight near the time of
the statehood campaign, and can be used as a historical reference point for further research.

Edgett, Ruth. Toward an Ethical Framework for Advocacy in Public Relations. J ournal of Public
Relations Research 14:1 (2002): 1-26. Web. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
This scholarly article attempts to define an ethical framework for public relations practitioners to follow.
The author reviews several texts on public relations, ethics, advocacy, rhetoric, and persuasion to propose
ten criteria for ethically desirable practices. The author also provides a background from which to draw a
set of ethical parameters, asking two questions: is persuasion a legitimate public relations function, and
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can it be performed to high ethical stands? This article helps my analysis by defining propaganda, or
persuasive, public relations tactics and determining their ethical nature.

Grunig, James, Todd Hunt. Managing Public Relations. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston,
1984. Print.
Considered one of the most influential text books on modern-day public relations practices, this book
provides a broad overview of the profession, its history, and several ideologies for best practices. I studied
chapter 1 (The Nature of Public Relations) and its definition and historical account of the Four Model of
Public Relations. The authors describe each model as an evolution of the practice and outline the
different/similar elements that make up each model. I am using these four models and their definitions as
the coding method for my content analysis. The authors believe the oldest model, Press Agentry, is the
last ethical public relations practice, while the modern, less-used model, Two-Way Symmetric, is the
most ethical.

Hughes, Michael, George Hayhoe. A Research Primer For Technical Communication. New York:
Routledge, 2008. Print
This text book details various methods of research useful in technical communication. Pages 86-91 offer a
guide in document analysis that is helpful in establishing my methods for a content analysis. The
definitions provided in this text tell me that my thesis is a qualitative study in which I will be looking at
tone, style and vocabulary selection in the Statehood Edition to draw conclusions about the authors or
intended audience. There is a step-by-step outline of how to conduct content analysis through coding,
categorizing and modeling.

Smulyan, Susan. Live from Waikiki: Colonialism, Race, and Radio in Hawaii, 19341963.
Historical J ournal of Film, Radio and Television 27:1 (2007): 63-75. Web. Retrieved 22 September
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This scholarly article discusses the history of radio and its relevance during the Hawaii statehood
campaign. Former Honolulu Advertiser publisher, Lorrin P. Thurston, is mentioned in connection with the
campaign, and the author agrees that public relations tactics were used to garner favorable support for
Hawaiis admission to the U.S. union. The radio program Hawaii Calls is the primary focus of this
article, and the author goes into great detail about its impact on Americans changing viewpoint of Hawaii
and its Oriental population.

Tye, Larry. The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays & the Birthplace of Public Relations. New York:
Crown Publishers, Inc., 1998. Print.
This is a biographical book about public relations pioneer Edward Bernays. The author used historical
research in the form of interviews and private papers to paint a portrait of Bernays and how he shaped
public relations as a profession. The author uses several famous case studies from Bernays career
alongside comments Bernays himself recorded in private essays and diaries, which he submitted to public
record post-mortem. This book aids my thesis in providing more insight into Bernays and his definition of
propaganda, and how it is used in American business practice during the time of the Hawaii statehood