In addition to the general research on science news reviewed in the previous chapter, several key media studies have specifically examined coverage of human cloning.

Media Coverage of Dolly and Reproductive Human Cloning

Holliman (2004) traces the emergence of the contemporary ‘media template’ for human cloning to its inception in the coverage of the various sheep cloned by Ian Wilmut at the Roslin Institute. Holliman adduces data from the full ‘circuit of mass communication’ (Thompson, 1988). He conducted (1) semi-structured qualitative interviews with UK science journalists, (2) a content analysis of UK newspaper and television news coverage from 1 January 1996 to 31 December 1997 and (3) audience reception research with both ‘scientists’ and ‘non-scientists’ in the UK using questionnaires and focus groups. Holliman (2004) found that scientists and media professionals at the Roslin Institute, along with their corporate sponsor PPL Therapeutics, were partially successful in their attempts to ‘manage’ UK media coverage of Dolly. Wilmut, Campbell and other scientists ‘dominated’ the coverage, according to Holliman (2004, p. 125). However, this scientific influence was tempered by the ‘news sense’ of journalists, who emphasised ‘science fiction and political extremis’ in addition to scientists’ views as part of the Dolly ‘media template’ (Holliman, 2004, p. 126). Holliman’s reception study showed that media coverage of Dolly was influential in focusing participants’ concerns on the ‘implications of cloning research for humans and not for sheep or other animals’ (Holliman, 2004, p. 126). Indeed, Holliman (2004) showed that Dolly set off a media firestorm reigniting concerns about the prospects for human cloning.