National Centre for Public Engagement grant award £1500. Project entitled: Public engagement of universities through local news media networks

Gary Graham, Anita Greenhill

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


This will be a collaborative project between Dr. Gary Graham, Dr. Anita Greenhill (Manchester Business School) and Dr. Mustie Rahman (who is based at the eResearch Centre, Oxford University). The focus of Graham and Greenhill’s work will be on developing the intellectual and theoretical scope of our public engagement project, while Rahman will develop a social network tool to map social relations/ties between Manchester University, local news media and the subsequent impact on public engagement. Our intention is to develop a case study investigating the role of local news media in university public engagement in the Manchester area. Universities have focused their news media relations at the national level for the associated prestige and esteem this achieves. But this implies that their lens is firmly orientated away from local news media. Yet it is apparent that universities have a much more significant and important economic and social role to play in their local community. Community radio, local television, regional newspapers and news web services are often neglected by university public and press relations. Where relations do exist between universities and local news media they tend to be characterised by loose ties, informal social relations and fragmented knowledge networks. The result is that academic expertise, intellectual knowledge and technological contributions often fail to diffuse out to benefit their neighbouring communities. This research aims to investigate the current effectiveness of social relations between Manchester University and its local news media and the significance of these ties (efficiency/effectiveness) for public engagement. The objective of the project is to explore the role of local news media in diffusing intellectual expertise and knowledge from universities and engaging the public in their work. Our project fits in with objectives 2, 3 and 5 of the Manchester University Beacon project. It aims to change perceptions and improve accessibility (objective 2); increase the relevance of research and connectivity with communities and to develop deeper partnership working across the Beacon partners and with the community (objective 3). Finally it aims to develop a more effective communication methodology ad knowledge networks (objective 5). In order to map the relationships between the network of local news media actors, university academics and their public engagement, contemporary Internet Crawler tools such as Issue Crawler and (open source hyperlink analytical tools) will be used to identify the structure of the information exchange by mapping the density of interaction between local news media actors, academics and public engagement. Observations relating to social cues, which specific topics initiate interaction, and the richness and abundance of such exchanges, can be witnessed.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBristol
PublisherNational Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2010


  • Local news media, public engagement, and universities


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