A comparative analysis of media reporting of perceived risks and benefits of genetically modified crops and foods in Kenyan and international newspapers

Christopher DeRosier, Iddisah Sulemana, Harvey S James Jr, Corinne Valdivia, William Folk, Randall D Smith

We empirically examine the reporting on biotechnology in Kenyan and international newspapers between 2010 and early 2014. We identify news articles that reported on biotechnology and analyze their use of words to determine whether there is a balance in the reporting of perceived risks and benefits. We also consider how the sources used in news articles and how the publication of the Séralini study of rats fed genetically modified maize affect the balance of reporting of perceived risks and benefits. We find that in Kenyan news reporting, more articles mention perceived benefits than risks, but when risks are mentioned, new articles contain more references to risks than to benefits. We also find that sources affect the reporting of perceived risks and benefits and that the Séralini study increased the likelihood that perceived risks are reported in Kenyan news reporting, but not in international newspapers.



‘I don’t get this climate stuff !’ Making sense of climate change among the corporate middle class in Lagos

Adeniyi P. Asiyanbi

Public engagement continues to be central to wider efforts to address climate change. This study contributes to public engagement debates by investigating engagement with climate change among an often overlooked group, the corporate middle class in Africa’s second largest megacity, Lagos. Combining survey and interviews, I focus analysis on three aspects: awareness, knowledge and concern; role of scientific and social frames in shaping general attitude; and spatial attribution of causes and consequences. The study reveals a universal awareness and high concern about climate change among the respondents, although understanding and perceptions of climate change are significantly socially framed. Social situatedness, more than scientific facts, is the most important definer of overall engagement with climate change. This study thus underscores a nuanced constructionist stance, showing how corporate professionals’ ‘ways of knowing’ climate change is underpinned by a certain co-production between scientific and socio-experiential frames. I highlight implications for research and public engagement with climate change.


‘On my mind’s world map, I see an Africa’: Bando de Teatro Olodum’s re-routing of Afro-Brazilian identity

Michelle Nicholson-Sanz

A group of black children in the city of Salvador da Bahia, intrigued by their teacher’s explanation that black Brazilians are descendants of Africans, embark on a quest to search for Africa. This is the central plot of Áfricas – Bando de Teatro Olodum’s theatre production for young people that premiered in 2007 (Teatro Vila Velha, Salvador da Bahia). In this critical reflection I focus on the productive intersections between diaspora and race, and consider the ways in which Áfricas claims a diaspora sensibility for Afro-Brazilians by enacting, both for the performers and for the audience, an awareness of themselves as an ethnic group with transnational roots. Drawing on understandings of diaspora as a contingent process rather than a way to reify certain communities, I argue that Áfricas’ staging of the connections between Brazil and Africa opens up a space in which young audiences can engage in what Chantal Mouffe calls ‘agonistic pluralism’ (2007), a debate in which passions and affects critically inform ‘the creation of collective political identities’. I assert that the show’s exploration of new formulations of Afro-Brazilian identity serves a therapeutic function for the black community in Salvador, who are often excluded in a country where the whiter one looks ensures greater access to social and economic privileges.


Science reporting in Accra, Ghana: Sources, barriers and motivational factors

Bernard Appiah, Barbara Gastel, James N. Burdine and Leon H. Russell

In Ghana, as in many other developing countries, most science reporting is done by general reporters. However, few studies have investigated science reporting in such a situation. To understand better the dynamics of science reporting in such context, we surveyed 151 general reporters in Ghana. Respondents’ demographic characteristics resembled those found in studies elsewhere. Respondents perceived health professionals and scientists as very important sources of information for reporting science. There was an inverse correlation between journalism experience and the number of science feature stories reported in the past 12 months (p = .017). Most respondents indicated that science journalism training would motivate them to report science more. Likewise, most reported that easier access to research findings would do so. We identify characteristics of reporters, media, scientific, and training institutions that are important influences of Ghanaian reporters’ coverage of science. We provide recommendations for advancing science reporting in Ghana.