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Mapping the field: a political economic account of specialist science news journalism in the UK national media

Williams, Andy ORCID: and Clifford, Sadie 2008. Mapping the field: a political economic account of specialist science news journalism in the UK national media. [Project Report]. Cardiff University. Available at:

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There has been much debate about the quality of UK science news in recent years. But too many discussions have failed to take into account the fact that news is produced by reporters working under significant economic and institutional constraints. Science news is not formed in a social, economic, or cultural vacuum. It is written by people at news organisations which are cutting staff, investing fewer resources into news production than ever before, and in most cases publishing or broadcasting for a dwindling audience. Nowhere is this clearer than in the USA where the number of newspapers with specialist science sections fell from 95 to just 34 between 1989 and 2004, and where the cable news channel CNN recently axed its entire science and environment team. We believe any discussion of science news in the UK national media must be situated in the context of the economic and political conditio ns under which news is made, as well as the more particular political economy of specialist science journalism. Put simply, the ability of specialist journalists to produce independent news of a high quality is inseparably linked to the ability (or willingness) of news organisations to adequately resource their newsgathering activities. This report is based on: 42 internet survey responses from UK national science, health, environment, and technology news journalists (we attained a response rate of 43%); 47 interviews with current and former UK national science, health, and environment news journalists1; and five interviews with senior editors at BBC News, ITN, and The Times newspaper.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Publisher: Cardiff University
Funders: Science and the Media Expert Group (Department of Business, Innovation and Skills), RCUK
Related URLs:
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2022 08:37

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