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Dr Andy Williams

Dr Andy Williams

BA Hons (Wales), MA, PhD (Cardiff)

Position: Lecturer (Teaching and Research)

Email: WilliamsA28@cardiff.ac.uk

Telephone: +44(0)29 208 70088

Location: Room 0.61B, Bute Building


Overview

Andy Williams is a lecturer at Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. He was previously the RCUK Research Fellow in Risk, Health and Science Communication (2008-10). He has a number of research interests which intersect journalism studies and cultural studies. His current major research interests relate to news sources and the influence of public relations on the UK media, especially in the area of science, health and environment news.

Current Research

His recent and previous research has included work on:

  • News coverage of science, the environment, and health: he has recently completed two research projects in this field. The first was a study of competing source strategies behind the media coverage of animal-human hybrid embryos (funded jointly by the Medical Research Council, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Wellcome Trust, and the Science Media Centre); and the second was a political economic account of specialist science, health and environment news journalism in the UK national media (funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills).
  • News sources and public relations: He was the lead researcher on a Mediawise Trust-funded project which showed that the UK elite press and broadcast news relies heavily on “information subsidies” provided by public relations and news agency copy. The study employed company document analysis, content analysis, questionnaires, and interviews with journalists and PR professionals to establish the growing role of the public relations industry in shaping news agendas and content. Carried out in collaboration with Guardian investigative reporter Nick Davies, the work was central to his bestselling book Flat Earth News.
  • Media convergence and online news: His work in this field has two strands. He has completed research for the National Union of Journalists which examines the political economy of multiplatform journalism in the UK local and regional press. He has also worked on a major AHRC knowledge exchange study of citizen journalism and user-generated content in collaboration with journalists at the BBC.

Links to Research Projects

Research history

He gained his MA and PhD at Cardiff University’s Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory, where his research interests were in poststructuralist cultural theory, UK media history, and the consumer culture of Victorian Britain.

After a stint as a political researcher for Leanne Wood AM (the Shadow Social Justice Minister at the Welsh Assembly) he moved to the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies as a research associate in 2006.

Teaching

He is the module leader of BA modules entitled “Science, the Environment, and Health in the News” and “Spin Unspun: Public relations and the news media”, and the masters module “Reporting Science and Health”, which is a collaboration between JOMEC’s MA in International Journalism and the SOCSI MSc in Science Communication.

He gives guest lectures on other BA and MA courses on topics such as science news, citizen journalism and the public sphere, new media and journalism studies, the influence of public relations on the news, and research methods. He also guest lectures at the Cardiff University Dental School, and the DECIPHer public health research centre. He has been a visiting lecturer in Communication Theory at the Kosovo Institute for Journalism and Communication.

Andy encourages PhD proposals about PR and the news, news coverage of science, the environment and health, or combinations of the above.

Media and outreach work

He has provided expert opinion and advice to a number of government bodies, media groups, and professional associations including the BBC, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, the Expert Group on Science and the Media, the National Union of Journalists, and the Welsh Assembly’s Broadcasting Subcommittee.

He regularly contributes to the UK national and regional press and broadcast media (recent media input includes Times Higher EducationNature News, the New Statesman, national BBC Breakfast News, the Guardian UnlimitedPress GazetteOpenDemocracy, and BBC Wales television and radio news). 
In addition to this he is committed to disseminating research findings in a variety of other contexts:

  • he regularly carries out media training workshops across the UK with scientists who want to gain a deeper insight into how science journalism works;
  • he has formed partnerships with BryncelynnogComprehensive in Beddau (his old school), and Treorchy Comprehensive in the Rhonda, where he speaks to media studies and science pupils about his research; and
  • he has contributed lectures in collaboration with the University of the Third Age (U3A).