journalism

Examining the nexus of science communication and science education: A content analysis of genetics news articles

Nicole A. Shea

Access to science information via communications in the media is rapidly becoming a central means for the public to gain knowledge about scientific advancements. However, little is known about what content knowledge is essential for understanding issues presented in news media. Very few empirical studies attempt to bridge science communication and science education research. This study presents findings from an inductive content analysis of genetics news articles from the New York Times’ science section. The analysis sought to characterize the genetic content knowledge anticipated as necessary to reason about featured issues. From the analysis, it is anticipated that individuals need detailed knowledge of molecular mechanisms in order to reason about such issues. Implications for supporting students’ scientific literacy in terms of the nexus of science communication and science education is discussed.

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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.

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Science journalists’ perceptions and attitudes to pseudoscience in Spain

Sergi Cortiñas-Rovira, Felipe Alonso-Marcos, Carles Pont-Sorribes, Eudald Escribà-Sales

Using interviews and questionnaires, we explored the perceptions and attitudes of 49 Spanish science journalists regarding pseudoscience. Pseudoscience, understood as false knowledge that endeavours to pass as science, is a controversial and complex matter that potentially poses a risk to society. Given that concern over this issue has grown in recent years in Spain, our aim was to evaluate how pseudoscience operates in journalistic practice in Spanish media. Our data reveal not only a lack of editorial policies in regard to pseudoscience, but also the existence of a significant number of science journalists who make light of the potential threat implied by the pseudosciences in the media. Some journalists point to the lack of scientific training of editors and media managers as one of the reasons for the proliferation of the pseudosciences.

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