Architecture in the media
Despite claims about the importance of the media's coverage of architectural issues, there has
beenv ery little researchi nto it, and architecturea nd media have usually beenr esearchedw ithin
their own academic disciplines. This research draws on media research, architectural literature
and first sourcesi n order to investigatet he representationo f architecturei n the media.
Initial examination of claims about architectural coverage in the media, an examination of media
research, and a preliminary scan of media coverage of architecture identified four main research
questions. These were first, an examination of the extent to which media coverage of
architecture was limited and partial, second, to investigate how this varied in different types of
media coverage, third, to see what role was played by architectural correspondents in shaping
this representation, and fourth, to assess the influence of sources on the architectural agenda.
A fifth problem, which emerged during the research, was to explore the interaction of these
various influences and the implications of specifically newsworthy cases in media coverage.
The detailed characteristics of a sample of architectural coverage were recorded, information
collected from interviews, and data amassed on two specific cases. Analysis of all these forms
of data showed that the representation of architectural issues was indeed limited and partial,
carrying strong interpretative values, some of which were in conflict with each other. Some of
tl}ese inconsistencies related to different forms of media coverage. Nevertheless, the disparate
values pervaded all architectural coverage, so that the media was representing simultaneously
conflicting values, relating to different aspects of hegemonic power and influence.
Investigation of the role of architectural correspondents showed that, despite claims about their
independence, they not only produced coverage which conformed with media routines, but had
adopted a common detailed architectural agenda. Some were producing particularly partisan
coverage, and further acting as sources. Thie main influence was in introducing the values of
their specific agenda into policies and decisions on the form of the built environment.
A range of architectural sources was identified, conforming to the general strands of media
coverage, who competed within a pardigm of establishment or power and opposition to that.
The positions of sources within this contest related to the way in which such sources behaved,
the coverage they received and the extent and nature of their influence.
Investigation of two causes celebres found that these were more important in the ideology and
accreditation of oppositional sources than in influencing policy, but were an integral part of
These findings showed that the representation of architectural issues was limited, partial and
selective, contained contradictory values and implied agreed sets of aesthetic and popular
values for architecture. Complex issues within architecture were represented as simplified
conflicting positions which were then argued in competition with each other, so that the quality
of a building, as judged on the implied values of the architectural agenda, could be used as an
argument in the negotiation of wider issues of architectural policy