Greg Philo obituary


In 1976, Greg Philo, who has died aged 76, and his colleagues within the Glasgow College Media Group (GUMG) printed Dangerous Information, a analysis examine difficult British broadcasting’s claims to impartiality. It argued that tv information was not a “impartial product” however as an alternative carried “most of the culturally dominant assumptions of our society”.

The GUMG confirmed that whereas some commentators on industrial relations blamed Britain’s financial issues on poor administration and low ranges of funding, in tv information such explanations had been sidelined in favour of accounts from the proper blaming unions and industrial motion.

Different members of the group included Peter Beharrell, Howard Davis, John Eldridge, John Hewitt, Jean Oddie, Paul Walton and Brian Winston. Few educational research earlier than or since have had such an impression. Because the cultural theorist Stuart Corridor remarked: “Whether or not they appreciated it or not, everybody learn Dangerous Information.”

Broadcasters and the broader institution didn’t prefer it in any respect, condemning the GUMG as Marxists. The group submitted preliminary findings primarily based on information bulletins captured on video from the primary 5 months of 1975 to the government-commissioned inquiry into the way forward for broadcasting. Its chair, Lord (Noel) Annan, described the group as “a shadowy guerrilla drive on the perimeter of broadcasting”.

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Nonetheless, in non-public the BBC’s editorial controller, John Wilson, stated that “it was essential to be sincere and admit that there was one thing in what the GUMG was saying”. Moreover, there was concern that the arguments had been gaining traction amongst BBC trainees and the broader public.

Extra extensively the preliminary publication and its successors – Extra Dangerous Information (1980) and Actually Dangerous Information (1982) – had been properly obtained and had a profound affect on a era of media researchers and political communicators.

A Sunday Occasions interview with Greg twenty years after the publication of Dangerous Information remarked that “the emergence of spin docs and media advisers in all political events might be linked to the work performed in Glasgow” and the group had “abilities to rival any market analysis organisation, mixed with a reputation impartial researchers would die for”.

Born in Bexleyheath, Kent (now the London borough of Bexley), Greg was the youngest little one of Irene (nee Campbell), a phone operator, and Thomas Philo, a shipyard supervisor. At St Mary’s Roman Catholic grammar faculty for boys, Sidcup, he demonstrated a aptitude for historical past and a dislike of Latin.

Greg then went to Bradford College to check sociology. There he perfected the artwork of brewing bathtub beer and co-founded the Normal Will, another theatre group. He directed a few of the group’s early performs, written by the younger David Edgar, graduated in 1970, and two years later went to Glasgow to check below Eldridge, an industrial sociologist. In 1980 he turned the GUMG’s analysis director, and 10 years later was appointed professor of communications and social change.

Below Greg’s four-decade management, the GUMG carried out grant-funded analysis on the reporting of topics together with growing international locations, worldwide conflicts, disarmament, psychological well being, political advertising, little one safety, local weather change, refugees and incapacity. A lot of this analysis was cited in parliamentary debates, coverage paperwork and official inquiries. It was additionally extensively utilized in campaigning by stress teams and charities.

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With this number of subject material went innovation in analysis strategies. Greg’s e book Seeing and Believing (1990) took the 1984 miners’ strike as a case examine, pioneering the usage of focus teams and workout routines such because the “information sport”, the place folks wrote their very own information bulletins utilizing pictures he provided. These allowed him to unpack how components akin to social expertise, prior information and the usage of logic affected whether or not folks believed or rejected media accounts.

In Dangerous Information from Israel (2004) he introduced collectively journalists together with George Alagiah of the BBC and Lindsey Hilsum of Channel 4 Information with members of the general public to discover how information impacted information and understanding of the Israel-Palestine battle. As this analysis demonstrated, broadcast information featured little context or rationalization of the Palestinian perspective, leaving audiences confused about fundamental elements of the battle and the way it may very well be resolved.

Austerity and local weather change offered the context to a lot of Greg’s later work. He campaigned for the introduction of a wealth tax as a substitute for cuts in public spending, and researched how susceptible teams akin to refugees and disabled folks had been stigmatised by reporting that legitimised the “hostile atmosphere” and assaults on incapacity rights.

In 2015 he co-produced, with Catherine Happer, his successor as director of the GUMG from 2021, and Chatham Home, a 12-country examine that demonstrated that with the proper messaging populations may very well be persuaded to devour much less meat to fight local weather change. It led to a marketing campaign in 2019 to introduce a “meat tax”, a trigger advocated by the then Inexperienced social gathering MP Caroline Lucas.

That 12 months too got here Dangerous Information for Labour, which analysed claims of antisemitism in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour social gathering. Greg’s analysis confirmed that the size of the issue had been exaggerated by the media and politicians, and since the management had did not rebut the false claims the general public drastically overestimated the incidence of antisemitism within the social gathering.

Though Greg formally retired in 2021, he remained energetic, two years later publishing analysis displaying how public service broadcasting had endorsed the UK authorities’s sluggish response to the pandemic and its disastrous coverage of herd immunity whereas marginalising scientific sources who argued for a sooner and extra strong strategy.

On the time of his dying Greg was engaged on a brand new e book on the Israel-Gaza conflict and a grant proposal exploring how the battle was impacting public opinion within the west, Center East and world south.

In 1984 he married Could Menzies. That they had two kids, Sarah-Could and John-Mark, and divorced in 2010. In 2021 he married Yajun Deng, and so they had two sons, Tommy-Lee and Ritchie-Ray. She survives him, alongside together with his 4 kids and two grandchildren.


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