Professor Brian Cathcart

About

A working journalist for about 30 years, mainly at the Independent papers, Reuters and the New Statesman, I was everything from sub-editor to deputy editor, business specialist to investigative reporter, and foreign correspondent to media columnist. I joined Kingston University in 2003 to help launch its journalism courses. My research is chiefly in journalistic ethics and I am a leading campaigner for reforms to raise ethical standards and restore trust. I write for Byline Times and I tweet as @BrianCathcart.

Among my recent publications is 'The Daily Mail and the Stephen Lawrence Murder' in Political Quarterly, which exposed that paper's exaggeration of its role in this tragic case. I also wrote 'Trust, Newspapers and Journalists' for Radical Statistics, an analysis of survey data which found that trust levels in UK print journalism were very low by every available measure. In 2019, with another veteran journalist, Paddy French, I published Unmasked, a detailed study of anti-Muslim reporting by the Times. Forthcoming publications include book chapters, for Routledge publications, about press accountability (or rather, its absence) and about the history of political journalism. 

A former specialist adviser to the Commons media select committee, I was a founder and the first director of the campaign group Hacked Off. I twice gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards and I recently led the Kingston team that created the online resource DiscoverLeveson.com. I am currently helping build a similar resource relating to the 1998-9 inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. I am the author of eight books, including the award-winning The Case of Stephen Lawrence (1999) and, most recently, The News from Waterloo (2014). If you wish to contact me consult a member of the journalism staff.

Academic responsibilities

Professor of Journalism

Teaching and learning

I was a founding member of the journalism teaching staff at Kingston University and created and led the following modules, among others: Practical Journalism 1 (previously Writing the News 1); Journalism and Diversity; History of Journalism; The News Business; Journalism; Ethics and the Industry. Though I continue to lecture, I no longer lead any modules.  

Research

Books:   The News from Waterloo: The Race to tell Britain of Wellington's Victory (2015), Faber & Faber.  Everybody's Hacked Off: Why we don't have the press we deserve and what to do about it (2012), Penguin Special. The Fly in the Cathedral: How a small group of Cambridge scientists won the race to split the atom (2004), Viking/Penguin.  Rain (2002), Granta.  Jill Dando, Her Life and Death (2001), Penguin.  The Case of Stephen Lawrence (1999), Viking/Penguin.  Were You Still Up for Portillo? (1997), Penguin.  Test of Greatness: Britain's Struggle for the Atom Bomb (1994), John Murray. 

Articles:   'An Introductory History of Political Journalism' in The Routledge Companion to Political Journalism (forthcoming).   'Where accountability is insufficient, bad journalism thrives: the case of the United Kingdom press' in The Routledge Companion to Journalism Ethics (forthcoming).   'Splitting Atoms: The news media and public perceptions of transmutation' in Ernest Rutherford/Transmutation centenary publication, Institute of Physics (forthcoming).   Unmasked: Andrew Norfolk, the Times Newspaper and anti-Muslim Reporting (with Paddy French), Unmasked Books, 2019.    'Trust, Newspapers and Journalism: a review of evidence', in Radical Statistics 118 (2017). 'The Daily Mail and the Stephen Lawrence Case', in Political Quarterly (2017).

I have made written submissions to the Lords Communications Committee inquiry into the future of journalism (2020), the Cairncross Review of the future of journalism (2018), the Commons Media Select Committee inquiry into 'Fake News' (2018) and the Government Consultation on the Leveson Inquiry and its Implementation (2017)

Journalism/Commentary, examples:  'The Telegraph, Covid-19 and Pakistan: The Making of Hate Propaganda', Byline Times, 2/7/2020   'Racism in Britain: A Dark Legacy of Betrayal', Byline Times, 10/6/2020  'The Beautician and the Beast: Danielle Hindley v the Mail on Sunday', Byline Times, 25/2/2020  'Piers Morgan and Phone Hacking: what even he can't deny', Byline Times, 21/1/2020  

Areas of specialism

  • Journalism practice
  • Journalism ethics and regulation
  • History of journalism
  • History of physics