Trying to Intervene: British Media Research and the Framing of Policy Debate

Georgina Born, University of Cambridge, UK

My research focuses on issues of public service broadcasting (PSB) and public culture and media generally, and includes major studies in the last decade of the BBC and Channel 4, the two main British public service broadcasters, the UK television industry, and digital television and convergence. I researched and wrote the first independent inside study of the BBC as an organization, an ethnography based on two years’ fieldwork mainly in BBC television in the late 1990s with updates to 2004, which is combined with wider historical and contemporary analysis of the industry and of media politics in the UK in this period.

On the basis of my research, I have occasionally managed in the last decade to move into policy-related work and advisory and consultancy roles with government, the PSBs, and major cultural bodies, although with difficulty, as the following will show. Although my experience no doubt stems from the nature of my research, which analyses critically the effects of the neo-liberal economic reforms that have swept over the British media and Britain’s public sector institutions – including the BBC – in recent decades, it forms part of a larger set of developments concerning academics’ capacity to intervene in policy debates. This wider story is of the growing ambivalence of public and private bodies to academic involvement in policy, of the waning public profile and legitimacy of academic research, of the closure of channels previously available to academics for communicating policy-relevant findings in the press and political weeklies, and of a degradation of the quality of analysis and understanding in these outlets. (…)

The full essay online:

IJoC – International Journal of Communication 2 (2008)

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