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: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>