Fourth Rate Estate? School research uncovers massive reliance on PR copy in UK news media
Wednesday, February 1, 2008
The Quality and Independence of British Journalism
In a new report published this week the School has uncovered a massive reliance on PR copy in UK news media.
The Journalism Studies research group at Cardiff University have published the first study which delivers striking and uncontested facts about the reliance of UK journalism on the public relations industry.
Amongst other findings the study, funded by Rowntree in collaboration with Mediawise and the Guardian, found that:
- Most journalists are now required to do more with less time, a trend that inevitably increases their dependence on ‘ready made’ news and limits opportunities for independent journalism.
- The content of domestic news stories in our quality media is heavily dependent on ‘pre-packaged news’ … 60% of press articles and 34% of broadcast stories come wholly or mainly from one of these ‘pre-packaged’ sources.
- 19% of newspaper stories and 17% of broadcast stories were verifiably derived mainly or wholly from PR material.
A press release to support the report (available in full below) stated:
The corporate and business world was found to be the main source of PR copy, which was found to be more than three times more successful than NGOs, charities and civic groups at getting material into the news.
"At a time when news groups are talking more and more about the power of citizen journalism to inform news agendas, we found that only 2% of home news stories in the press originated from citizens and public opinion."
Journalists surveyed for the study revealed that most felt the pressure to produce a high number of stories daily had intensified, and that this increased their reliance on recycling material rather than reporting independently.
Prof Justin Lewis speaking last year
Head of School Prof Justin Lewis, who headed up the research team said:
"…The everyday practices of news judgement, fact checking, balance, criticising and interrogating sources that are, in theory, central to routine day to day journalism practice have been eroded."
"…. It’s clear that most journalists operate under economic, institutional and organisational constraints which means they have to produce too many stories to be able to operate with real freedom and independence."
The report, written by Prof Justin Lewis, Dr Andrew Williams, Prof Bob Franklin, Dr James Thomas and Nick Mosdell is available below for download.
For more information please contact Dr Andrew Williams, tel 02920-870088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org