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Press Coverage of Hybrid Embryos

UK National Newspaper Coverage of Hybrid Embryos: Source strategies and struggles

Award Holders: Andy Williams (Cardiff), Jenny Kitzinger (Cardiff), Justin Lewis (Cardiff)

Funder: Medical Research Council, Association of Medical Sciences, Wellcome Trust, and Science Media Centre, 2009

Based at: Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies

This project offers an analysis of press coverage of the debates around the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos for stem cell research. It was funded by a range of medical and scientific research and communication bodies.

This report presents the results of a content analysis of national newspaper coverage of the controversial practice of creating animal-human admixed embryos for stem cell research. It sheds light on an often bitter struggle between two broad groups of news sources who each aimed to garner favourable news coverage in the period January 2006 to December 2008.

On the one hand was a powerful coalition of scientists, funding bodies, charities and politicians in favour of the science, and on the other was a less cohesive group of opponents including religious figures, ethicists, campaigners, and politicians.

The report charts which groups were most successful at securing favourable coverage and dominating the news agenda on hybrids. We also consider the quiet, often imperceptible, work of media management on both sides of the debate and consider the important PR tactics and strategies employed throughout.

Themes of analysis include: source struggles in the debates around contentious science stories, the influence of public relations on science reporting.

Research Outputs

UK National Newspaper Coverage of Hybrid Embryos Full Research Report [1.3 MB]