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Changing face of journalism

07 Chwefror 2008

Newspaper reader

The extent of the British media’s reliance on the public relations industry has been revealed in a new study by the University.

Research by academics from the Journalism Studies research group at the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, suggests that 60 per cent of press articles and 34 per cent of broadcast stories come wholly or mainly from ‘pre-packaged’ sources, such as public relations copy, or news wire services.

The corporate and business world was found to be the main source of public relations copy, and was more than three times more successful than non-governmental organisations, charities and civic groups at getting material into the news.

Only 2 per cent of home news stories in the press were found to originate from citizens and public opinion.

Other findings revealed that most journalists are now required to do more with less time, a trend that increases their dependence on ‘ready made’ news and limits opportunities for independent journalism.

The study also found that while the number of journalists in the national press has remained fairly static, they now produce three times as much copy as they did twenty years ago.

Head of the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural studies, Professor Justin Lewis, who led the study, 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 study was funded by Rowntree in collaboration with Mediawise and the Guardian.