In the news: Greg Philo

June 25, 2004

Glasgow University professor Greg Philo, who has been putting the media under the spotlight for 30 years, was in the limelight himself this week as he underwent a series of gruelling media interviews to mark the publication of his latest controversial book.

Professor Philo has been racing between London radio and television studios and fielding calls from journalists across the world about Bad News from Israel, co-authored by Mike Berry, which investigates television coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and viewers' understanding of it.

The Pluto Press book springs from a two-year study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The work carries not only extensive analysis of TV coverage but also in-depth interviews with broadcasters and research sessions that bring together senior journalists and members of the public.

The book says there is virtually no information on the origins of the conflict, with most viewers very confused even about the meaning of "occupied territories". But Professor Philo says 80 per cent of the population rely on television news for information, and a low level of public understanding prevents the possibility of public debate.

The Kent-born academic took a sociology BSc at Bradford University in 1971 before moving to Glasgow to do a PhD. He was invited to join an ESRC project on whether television coverage clarified or obscured events. This resulted in the influential book Bad News in 1975, authored by the now internationally known Glasgow Media Group.

Professor Philo and John Eldridge, sociology professor at Glasgow, then set up the Glasgow Media Unit, with Professor Philo becoming research director in 1980.

There has been a great interest in the unit's research methods on how language is used and understood by other disciplines. It has analysed media coverage of a vast range of sensitive issues, from breast cancer and mental health to ethnic minorities and BSE.

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