Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists see bright side of working with media

14.07.2008
Once upon a time in the world of science, sharing your work with the press was heresy.

Journalists, according to the common wisdom, would get it wrong, your research would be distorted, and your colleagues would see you as little more than a shameless grandstander. Scientist popularizers such as the late Carl Sagan, a master of adroit science communication, were excoriated by some of their colleagues for the questionable practice of trying to make science accessible.

But a sea change is under way, it seems. In a report published this week (July 11, 2008) in the journal Science, an international team of communications researchers reports that relationships between scientists and journalists are now more frequent and far smoother than the anecdotal horror stories scientists routinely share.

"Scientists actually see rewards in this process, not just pitfalls," says Sharon Dunwoody, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of journalism and a co-author of the new report.

What's more, a majority of scientists surveyed - 57 percent - found their "latest appearance in the media" to be a mostly positive experience, while only 6 percent were unhappy with the journalistic outcome.

The Science report is based on a survey of more than 1,300 researchers in five countries: France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The poll revealed that, for the most part, scientists felt their work was portrayed accurately, explained well, and that news reports were generally complete and unbiased. Journalists, according to survey respondents, were perceived as responsible and informed in their reporting.

The new study was directed by Hans Peter Peters of the Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany, and sampled researchers in two broad and well-covered scientific fields, epidemiology and stem cell research.

The results of the survey suggest that scientists' perspectives of the news media have evolved during the past 15 years, says Dominique Brossard, a UW-Madison professor of journalism who is also a co-author of the report.

"Clearly, the survey shows that scientists see interactions with journalists as necessary," Brossard explains. "We don't have to convince the scientists anymore. We're beyond that."

Although scientists may no longer need to be persuaded to engage journalists, many still view the practice of journalism as incompatible with scientific culture. However, that perception, say the authors of the new report, seems to be more nuanced than in the past.

What may be driving the change in scientists' behavior, according to Dunwoody, is the prospect of rewards. Science that is more visible appears more credible to potential funders, and news coverage may enhance individual scientists' career prospects. Another driver, say Dunwoody and Brossard, is that scientists see a benefit of greater public understanding of the scientific enterprise through news coverage of research.

The survey, which included responses from 358 U.S. scientists, indicated few differences in scientists' perceptions of interacting with journalists from country to country, possibly because the cultural norms of science are universal.

The scientists in the survey who interacted most with journalists tended to be more senior, more productive researchers, suggesting that journalists do a better job than scientists think of finding the best people to talk to. "Journalists are attending to the highly productive scientists," Dunwoody explains. "That's good news and gives less credibility to the notion that journalists pay too much attention to outliers."

The survey also suggests scientists are becoming more knowledgeable about how journalists work and are thus more skilled at working with reporters. "Scientists in this survey are quite savvy in their interactions," says Dunwoody.

Although the results of the poll are generally good news for both scientists and journalists, the researchers caution the picture is far from complete. In some fields where social controversy is more acute - climate science and evolutionary biology, for example - surveys might paint a different picture, the researchers caution.

Sharon Dunwoody | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht New Technologies for A/V Analysis and Search
13.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Digitale Medientechnologie IDMT

nachricht On patrol in social networks
25.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>