Even scientists define 'a gene' in different ways, so it comes as little surprise that the media also have various ways of framing the concept of a gene, according to a new study appearing in the October 2008 issue of EMBO reports.
The study, Frame that gene, is based on the analysis of 300 articles in British and Norwegian newspapers: The Guardian, The Sun and The Daily Mail from the UK; and Aftenposten, Dagbladet, and VG from Norway.
The researchers -- a molecular biologist, a media expert and a PhD student in science communication from the University of Oslo, Norway -- identified five main 'gene frames' in different types of media. For example, the "deterministic" frame, which was particularly evident in tabloid media, involves one-dimensional conclusions along the lines of "Drunk? It's in your genes".
According to the authors of the study, this may be related to the desire of journalists to sell a story by keeping it simple and accessible. In contrast, the "evolutionary" frame, commonly used by scientists, gives more insight, but may be difficult to communicate. Moreover, the study also found that the gene has become a playful metaphor, for example by stating that "Mazda has many Ford genes".
The analysis in EMBO reports shows that journalists present the term 'gene' -- either consciously or subconsciously -- using a number of different frames that may invoke various prejudiced images in the reader's mind. "Such a diversity of meanings presents a key challenge to science communications, so both scientists and journalists could benefit from a clear classification of the polysemy," the paper argues.
The authors hope that their novel approach will be a useful tool for journalists and scientists to improve their explanations of genetics for a broader audience and better understand how scientific topics are framed in the mass media.
"The common understanding of scientific topics is increasingly important because the public is more and more able to influence policy-making on scientific issues and thus the funding and even the nature of research itself", explained Rebecca Carver from the Institute of Basic Medical Science at the University of Oslo and the first author of the study. Ferocious debates on genetically modified crops or stem cell research illustrate the importance that genetics and molecular biology have gained in everyday life.
The study publication Frame that Gene: A tool for Analyzing and Classifying the Communication of Genetics to the Public will appear in the October issue of EMBO reports.
Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland
Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy