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Title: Anglo-American press coverage of therapeutic cloning : a grounded discourse analysis of news production and content
Author: Jensen, E. H.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2008
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This study examines the production and content of press coverage of therapeutic cloning in the US and Britain from 1997 to 2006. The sample includes 5,128 articles drawn from 19 new publications, as well as 18 qualitative interviews with journalists and editors. Data analysis was conducted in two phases, using both grounded methodology and sociological discourse analysis. The results coalesced around three main themes: Hype, Nationalism and Sources. In the case of hype, its valence and relative distribution was found to differ substantially across the US, UK tabloid and UK broadsheet samples. The elite press in the UK and science advocacy publications in both countries evinced a strong bias towards utopian framing, hyping the imminence and certainty of forthcoming therapeutic cloning cues. Meanwhile, a dualistic pattern of both utopianism and equally excessive dystopianism was visible in the American press and British tabloid newspapers. In addition to utopian/dystopian hype, competitive framing and banal nationalism (Billig 1995) was shown to be influential both in the backstage news judgements of journalists and editors, and in front stage press content. The third results chapter investigates the process of source selection. In keeping with previous research (e.g. Conrad 1999), scientists were found to represent the most important and extensively cited category of journalistic sources. Also significant were subpolitical activists, aligned on either side of this issue as semi-routine journalistic sources. Most notably, patients and anti-abortion groups supplied journalists with sympathetic ‘human interest’ narratives and sensational criticism of embryo research, respectively. Finally, the discussion chapter considers the struggle between market imperatives and professional ideals embodied in the practice of science journalism. Emerging from this struggle are several limitations inherent in the press’s role as a major forum for publics engaging with science.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available