Posts Tagged ‘News’

The challenges for science journalism in the UK

April 24, 2013

From Progress in Physical Geography

A science journalist is a specialist whose role is, broadly, to report scientific developments to a wider audience than that reached by the academic journals. The world of journalism is changing rapidly as online media grow, squeezing resources and putting pressure on journalists to produce maximum output on minimum resources.  The effect is to threaten to shift the role of science news production away from science journalists to public relations (PR) professionals, and to reduce the essential democratic role of the journalist holding the spenders of public money to account.

This study discusses in particular two significant pieces of recent research into science journalism in the UK, namely Williams and Clifford’s report into specialist science journalism in the UK national media (2010), and the recent BBC Impartiality Review. It also describes the working practices and pressures on science journalists with the intention of providing a guide to working with science journalists. The authors discuss the pressures facing the field as print news declines and online publication ascends.


Only 15 minutes? The social layers of fame

April 11, 2013

Only 15 Minutes? The Social Stratification of Fame in Printed Medi

From American Sociological Review

In the long-standing tradition of stratification research, one major source of power and status has been virtually ignored, until recently: fame. People aspire to fame, just as they aspire to political power, wealth, income, education, and health. This study investigates the mobility of fame using a unique data source containing daily records of references to person names in a large corpus of English-language media sources. Fame exhibits strong continuity even in entertainment, on television, and on blogs, where it has been thought to be most ephemeral. These data reveal that only at the bottom of the public attention hierarchy do names exhibit fast turnover; at upper tiers, stable coverage persists around a fixed level and rank for decades. Analysis suggests that internal mechanisms can create stability even in the absence of external stabilizing forces. Fame need not become ephemeral when disconnected from fame-granting structural positions. The study concludes that once a person’s name is decoupled from the initial event that lent it momentary attention, self-reinforcing processes, career structures, and commemorative practices perpetuate fame.


Moderate voices muted in political news

September 13, 2012

Moderatism or Polarization? Representation of Advocacy Groups’ Ideology in Newspapers

From Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly

While commentators and scholars argue that political groups have become more polarized in the US, this study finds that moderate political groups are not as well covered in newspaper articles as more radical right and left-wing groups. “Extremes are more intuitively novel, entertaining, and colorful, representing another common news value,” wrote the authors “Moderate voices may be more difficult to portray as exciting than extreme voices.”

208 political advocacy groups that represented a range of political ideologies were examined as they were represented across 118 newspapers. The authors found that groups that expressed more polarized opinions on political issues were mentioned in larger newspapers, appeared earlier in articles, and were mentioned in more paragraphs. The authors wrote, “More people had the opportunity to note those groups, fueling perceptions of those groups as important or legitimate.”


The role of media discourse framing attitudes towards the use of embryonic stem cells

October 19, 2010

Beliefs about science and news frames in audience evaluations of embryonic and adult stem cell research

From Science Communication

There has been great global attention to the recent announcement that US doctors have begun the first official trial of using human embryonic stem cells in patients after getting the green light from regulators. The shift in political stance towards embryonic stem cell research is a result of the change in US government to the Democratic Party, led by President Ohama. Although many scientists are supportive and excited about the potential, this type of stem cell research is still considered controversial by some others.

This study investigates how demographic variables (gender, science background and interest, political and religious orientation) and beliefs about science influence audience evaluations of studies on embryonic and adult stem cells. It also recognizes how media discourse on biotechnology has tended in the past to be framed in terms of political controversy and ethical dilemmas. Support for embryonic stem cell research increases as exposure to this research in the media increases, but this relationship is attenuated by both religious and ideological predispositions. Are attitudes changing? Will media discourse shift further to encourage more liberal public opinion or are conservative attitudes fixed?


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