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Media reporting on public procurement: an analysis of UK press coverage, 1985-2018

Flynn, Anthony ORCID: and Harris, Irina ORCID: 2022. Media reporting on public procurement: an analysis of UK press coverage, 1985-2018. Journal of Public Procurement 22 (2) , pp. 89-108. 10.1108/JOPP-09-2021-0059

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Purpose: The media is an important actor in public procurement, but research on its role is limited. This paper investigates how the media has engaged with public procurement, using UK newspapers as a case example. Method: The method consisted of (1) searching Nexis database for news articles on public procurement (2) automatic extraction of article attributes like length, section, authorship and (3) manually coding each article for its theme and industry context. This produced quantitative indicators about the extent and focus of press coverage on public procurement. Findings: Press coverage of public procurement increased between 1985 and 2018. The focus of coverage has been on governance failure and socio-economic policy. Governance failure, which includes corruption, cronyism and supplier malpractice, is associated with construction, outsourcing and professional services sectors. Socio-economic policy, which includes supporting small suppliers and favouring domestic industry, is associated with manufacturing, defence and agriculture. Originality: This is the first study on media coverage of public procurement. It highlights that while there are similarities between media and academic treatment of public procurement, particularly in relation to its socio-economic side, the media emphasises governance failings and negative developments to a greater extent. Practical implications: Government officials should be more proactive in countering the ‘negativity bias’ in news coverage of public procurement by showcasing projects where value-for-money has been achieved, services have been successfully delivered and social value has been realised. Limitations: The analysis included UK media only. While the trends observed on the extent and focus of public procurement news coverage likely reflect the situation in other countries, international comparative research is still required.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: PrAcademic Press
ISSN: 1535-0118
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 December 2021
Date of Acceptance: 3 December 2021
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 21:05

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