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Guldgruvan som försvann?: En mediestudie av konflikten kring UmanGenomics och Medicinska biobanken 2001-2006
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of culture and media studies.
2009 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The goldmine that disappeared? : A media study of the conflict surrounding UmanGenomics and Medical Biobank, 2001-2006 (English)
Abstract [en]

Between 2002 and 2006, an ongoing conflict surrounding Umeå-based biotech company UmanGenomics and the Medical Biobank at Umeå University played out in the media. The conflict involved researchers, business leaders, politicians, the university board, journalists and the general public.

The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the public media-mediated conflict surrounding UmanGenomics and Medical Biobank from a media and communication sciences perspective and thereby contribute to research into Science Journalism and media-mediated science-related conflicts. The questions examined by the study are as follows: how was the conflict portrayed in local and national newspapers, respectively, and how did these portrayals change over time? Were there any similarities, or was there any relationship between the media-mediated conflict and the »internal« debate, which are able to be traced via the events registered in Umeå University’s journal of daily events? Which parties elected to involve themselves in the conflict and did their descriptions of what happened differ? Were there any particular aspects of the conflict that were portrayed by the media as »failures«, and if so, what was it that was considered a failure?

In total, 654 texts from the local and national media were analysed, as well as the university’s journal. The study has largely been carried out using quantitative content analysis, supplemented by general argumentation analysis. The study’s theoretical bases are taken from research on the relationship between science and the media, from rhetoric research, but also from Science and Technology Studies (STS) in a broader sense.

This dissertation shows that the conflict was reported on differently depending on the newspaper’s proximity to the conflict itself, and on which arena the conflict was played out in. This also demonstrates that the conflict, most especially as played out in local news coverage, can be divided into different phases. While the media reports include many instances of those involved laying blame at each other’s feet, it is the market and the conflict that are considered to have been the primary factors in UmanGenomics’ ultimate demise.

This study presents five suggestions as to what lessons can be learnt from this media-mediated conflict. The first is that the conflict provides an example of mutual exploitation: the media exploited the events surrounding the conflict in order to produce newsworthy, sensational and descriptive stories. Whereas within the university, the main figures embroiled in the conflict used the media as a front to either introduce or support their own points of view. The second is that the conflict should have given the »university world« an inducement to discuss media strategies and its transparency policies in greater depth. The third suggestion is that the media’s ability to make citizens’ opinions on science-related questions heard is problematic. Fourthly, many of those involved used the conflict to try to position themselves in relation to a rival counterpart, rather than to try to provide the general public with a clear and accurate picture of the conflict. Finally, it is suggested that the use of the »goldmine« metaphor, used to refer to both UmanGenomics and Medical Biobank, may have played a part in limiting media debate on the issue within the confines of a certain type of rhetoric.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2009. , 274 p.
Medier & kommunikation, ISSN 1104-067X ; 14
Keyword [en]
UmanGenomics, Medicial Biobank Umeå, Umeå University, media-mediated controversy, local newspapers, national press, university records, rhetorics, arenas, accusations, metaphor
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-25581ISBN: 978-91-7264-833-3OAI: diva2:232260
Institutionen för kultur- och medievetenskaper, 901 87, Umeå
Public defence
2009-09-25, Hörsal F, Humanisthuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-08-31 Created: 2009-08-20 Last updated: 2009-09-01Bibliographically approved

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