O'Neill, Deirdre (2007) From Hunky Heroes to Dangerous Dinosaurs: Journalism-union relations, news access and press coverage in the 2002-3 British Fire Brigades Union dispute. Journalism Studies, 8 (5). pp. 813-830. ISSN 1461-670X

Using the UK Fire Brigades Union dispute of 2002-3 as a case study, this paper assesses current union-journalism relations and briefly outlines the FBU’s campaign to access the news agenda. Using quantitative methodology, it analyses the dispute coverage in the UK national press. While there are some opportunities that unions can exploit, such as 24-hour news and live broadcasts, newspaper analysis indicates that national press coverage generally favoured government and other elite sources as primary definers. While the FBU was given at least equal space to put its case in nearly half of all articles, certain sections of the press seemed impervious to any amount of public relations activity: five out of the nine papers analysed – the Mail, Express, Telegraph, The Times and the Sun – reveal coverage heavily loaded against the union, with the Times and Sun giving negligible space to the union viewpoint and choosing to use overwhelmingly hostile sources, narratives and opinions. It concludes that, in line with the findings of previous studies by the Glasgow University Media Group, public relations and media strategies have limited impact, at least in the UK press.

FBU paper 28 3 07.pdf - Accepted Version

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