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Professor Denis McQuail

University of Amsterdam

Denis McQuail was Emeritus Professor at the School of Communication Research (ASCOR) University of Amsterdam and Visiting Professor in the Department of Politics at the University of Southampton. He studied history and sociology at the University of Oxford and received his Ph.D. from the University of Leeds. He was an Honorary Doctor of the University of Gent. He published widely in the field of media and communication, with particular reference to audience research, media policy and performance, and political communication. His most recent book publications are: McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory, 5th edition., Sage, 2005 and Media Accountability and Freedom of Publication, University of Oxford Press, 2003.

A personal note by Jeremy Tunstall (July 2017)

Denis and I first met 48 years ago in 1969.  We both spent one full time research year (1976-77) working for the McGregor Royal Commission on the Press which published volumes including 900 pages by Colin Seymour-Ure, Oliver Boyd-Barrett, James Curran, myself and Denis McQuail.  But in my opinion the best of this research output was one big volume: Denis McQuail,  Analysis of Newspaper Content  (Royal Commission on the Press, Research Series 4) London: H.M.S.O, 1977.
This not very widely known piece of research in my opinion is the best executed and most detailed newspaper content analysis in the English Language.
This Denis McQuail content analysis exemplified his strengths as a quantitative researcher, which was already evident in his early television work with Jay Blumler (Television in Politics: Its  uses and Influence, London: Faber 1968).
Denis wrote exceptionally clearly about complex topics. Often he began with a conference talk or lecture which had perhaps been written on a plane or train journey and was often pretty chaotic. But he then produced very much more polished written and published versions. 
Hovering on the edge of the funeral gathering were several people from Sage Publications UK. As we all know, Sage have sold huge numbers of  Mass Communication Theory in its numerous editions and many translations.  It will continue on into the future as McQuail’s Mass Communications Theory.  The secret of its success, Denis told me more than once was that there was in fact very little theory in the book.
I spoke with Denis on the phone just two days before his death. Like a great many others I will remember him as a talented colleague and a very amiable and argumentative friend.