Ruth Garland

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I have come back into study after a long career in public sector PR, working in broadcasting, medical research, health promotion, publishing and local government.  As well as carrying out research for my PhD I spent 15 months as research assistant for the LSE Government and the Media project, working with Professor Nick Couldry and Dr Damian Tambini. I am Deputy Editor of the Media@LSE Working Paper series, working with Dr Barts cammaerts. See

Academic background

I studied for a B.Sc. in Human Sciences – a four-year course which included conventional biological sciences such as genetics, cell and developmental biology, ecology, animal physiology, biochemistry et al, but had as its main focus human studies such as human evolution and ecology, and the history and philosophy of science, anthropology and cultural studies.  

I then took a one-year M.Sc. in Information Science at City University, for which I produced a 6,000 word research dissertation. This used content analysis of television programmes and interviews with television producers to identify common themes and approaches in science and medical programmes.

A version of my MSc research project was published as: Images of Health and Medical Science conveyed by television in the Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners (June 1984: 316-319). Publication coincided with my first job as information officer at the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and General Practice at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School, where I worked with local GPs to encourage better audit of their practice. The department’s main source of funding was the MRC’s British Regional Heart Study, a long-term population-based prospective study looking into indicators that could predict the later development of coronary heart disease. At this time I also edited the British Computer Society’s newsletter Computers in Primary Care and worked as a freelance medical journalist.  


My PR career began at the Health Education Council and from there I joined BBC television’s press and PR team as publicist for science programmes, later adding popular features.  Throughout my time there I experienced the impact of changes in the British press and in the landscape of broadcasting with the creation of the two satellite broadcasters, Sky and British Satellite Broadcasting. Later, as Head of Communications for publishing att BBC Worldwide I took part in the BBC’s leadership training programme based at Ashridge, and spent three months in the BBC’s Public Affairs team. I then spent six years in local government communications in partnerships, and then as communications manager for Hackney Council’s 2012 team.

Research interests

In 2011, because of my growing interest in public affairs, I studied for aDiploma in Public Affairs and Political Communications provided through the PR Academy and the industry body, CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations). This led directly to my PhD proposal – Measuring “politicisation” in modern UK Government communications. I started the PhD programme at the LSE’s Media and Communications department in October 2012. For my research I am carrying out in-depth interviews with former civil service PR specialists, senior policy journalists and special advisers to understand how they perceive changes in government approaches to media since the 1980s. My supervisor is Dr Nick Anstead and my academic adviser is Dr Damian Tambini.

Research papers

Examining the question of “politicisation” in modern UK Government communications – paper presented at the 2014 London PhD Symposium on Media and Communications, University of Westminster, November 22nd, 2013

Examining the question of “politicisation” in modern government communications – the case of the UK since 1997 – paper presented at the 2014 Political Studies Association Annual Graduate Conference, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, December 12th, 2013

Media spin and the ‘black box’ of modern UK government communications: mediatization as a force for change – paper presented at the Mediatization of Politics and Government conference, ECREA temporary working group on mediatization, London School of Economics and Political Science, 25-26th April 2014.

Government and the Media– contributed to a presentation by Professor Nick Couldry and Dr Damian Tambini given at a ‘round table’ event held at the LSE to open discussions with academics, policy specialists and civil servants about how to prepare a pilot study and ESRC funding proposal – 26th June 2014.   

‘Spin’ and the black box of Government Media Relations – how press officers perceive their role in relation to New Labour’s drive to modernise government media relations after 1997– paper presented at the ECPR Graduate Conference 2014 at the University of Innsbruck, 3-5th July 2014.  Fully funded by the LSE postgraduate travel fund.

Beyond the narrative of political spin – an empirical analysis of the workings and purposes of UK government media relations since 1997– paper presented at the Political Studies Association Media and Politics Group Annual Conference: ‘Media, persuasion and human rights’, Bangor University, 10-11th November 2014.  Received bursary prize. 

Political Spin and the new generation of government communicatios – 1997 and beyond paper presented at the MeCCSA Annual Conference at Newcastle University, 7-9 January 2015.

Theories, processes and practices of media engagement: how does the UK government engage with media? – paper presented at the Annual Conference on Media Engagement, Lund University, Sweden, 19 March 2015.  Fully funded by the LSE postgraduate travel fund.

Keeping a cool head in a crisis: media at the political frontline – paper presented at the Brestolon workshop, Crisis, Consensus and Conflict, Goodenough College, London, May 7-9 2015.

Participation in seminars/workshops


I have been a member of the New York/London/Berlin NYLON working group since October 2013.  This is a transatlantic intellectual group that shares a broad interest in culture and qualitative research methods.  The group includes both faculty, PhD students and early career researchers and meets locally twice a month during term time, with international meetings once or twice a year.  I attended the group’s fully-funded Berlin workshop on 27-28 June, leading a ‘work in progress’ session on:  Examining the question of “politicisation” in modern UK Government communications.


I am a participant in this ECREA mediatisation research network which brings together scholars and PhD students from Bremen, Stockholm and London.  I presented a paper at the 2014 fully-funded workshop in Bremen, 8-10th May -  Agency, reflexivity and social change: how government communicators perceive their role in relation to New Labour’s drive to modernise the media management process. I was the organiser of the 2015 workshop Crisis, Censensus and Conflict, held in London in May 2015.


I took part in the LSE’s Increasing Participation programme in 2013-14, which provides tutors for able students in London comprehensive schools, tutoring in GCSE media studies during Lent term: January to March 2014. I have also taught English as a Foreign Language to French schoolchidren.

In Lent term 2015, I produced a proposal for a new MSc in Strategic Communications, including lecture and seminar series, outline and reading lists, working with Dr Myria Georgiou.

Blogs and book reviews

I am a regular reviewer for LSE Review of Books and have blogged for the LSE's media and politics think tank, POLIS.