media

Creating creationists: The influence of ‘issues framing’ on our understanding of public perceptions of clash narratives between evolutionary science and belief

Fern Elsdon-Baker

Clash narratives relating to evolutionary science and personal belief are a recurrent theme in media or public space discourse. However, a 2009 British Council poll undertaken in 10 countries worldwide shows that the perception of a necessary clash between evolutionary worldviews and belief in a God is a minority viewpoint. How then does the popular conception that there is an ongoing conflict between evolution and belief in God arise? One contributing factor is the framing and categorization of creationism and evolutionism within large-scale surveys for use within media campaigns. This article examines the issue framing within four polls conducted in the United Kingdom and internationally between 2008 and 2013. It argues that by ignoring the complexity and range of perspectives individuals hold, or by framing evolutionary science as atheistic, we are potentially creating ‘creationists’ − including ‘Islamic creationists’ − both figuratively and literally.

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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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Education, communication, and science in the public sphere

Noah Weeth Feinstein

In the 1920s, John Dewey and Walter Lippmann both wrote important books examining whether the public was capable of playing a constructive role in policy, particularly when specialized knowledge was involved. This essay uses the Lippmann–Dewey debate to identify new challenges for science education and to explore the relationship between science education and science communication. It argues that science education can help foster democracy in ways that embody Habermas’ ideal of the public sphere, but only if we as a field pay more attention to (1) the non-scientific frames and narratives that people use to interpret news about science, (2) the “second shaping” of scientific facts by the media, and (3) emerging platforms for public engagement.

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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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