content analysis

Evolutionary theory in letters to the editor

This research note presents the results of a content analysis of 234 letters to the editors that discuss evolutionary theory and were published in American newspapers. We find that letters to the editor both support and hinder the cause of teaching evolutionary theory in American secondary schools. On the one hand, anti-evolutionary theory messages are marginalized in the letters section. This marginalization signals a low level of legitimacy for creationism. It might also contribute to the sense of tension that sustains creationist identities. On the other hand, relatively few letters explicitly note the fact that scientists or the scientific community accept evolution. Interestingly, the obscuration of the scientific community’s support for evolutionary theory occurs both in letters supporting and opposing evolutionary theory.

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Can media monitoring be a proxy for public opinion about technoscientific controversies? The case of the Italian public debate on nuclear power

Federico Neresini, Andrea Lorenzet

Is it possible to infer information about public opinion by looking at how the media discuss controversial technoscientific public issues? We conduct content analysis on media coverage of nuclear power in Italy in the years 1992–2012 and compare it with longitudinal public opinion surveys. By treating a large amount of textual data and applying an innovative methodology based on indicators of the presence of ‘risky terms’, that is, keywords referring to the issue of risk and danger, very high correlation has been found between media discourse on risk and opposition within public opinion. The analysis is conducted testing as a preliminary step Mazur’s hypothesis on quantity of coverage and opposition towards controversial technoscience. Then, risk content measures are used in order to gain stronger correlations between media and public attitudes towards nuclear power.

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Is it my responsibility or theirs? Risk communication about antibiotic resistance in the Swedish daily press

Gustav Bohlin and and Gunnar E. Höst (JCOM)

Antibiotic resistance is an increasing global threat involving many actors, including the general public. We present findings from a content analysis of the coverage of antibiotic resistance in the Swedish print media with respect to the risk communication factors cause, magnitude and countermeasures. The most commonly reported cause of development and spread of resistance was unnecessary prescription of antibiotics. Risk magnitudes were mostly reported qualitatively rather than using quantitative figures. Risk-reduction measures were analyzed using a framework that distinguishes between personal and societal efficacy. Measures at the societal level were more commonly reported compared to the individual level.

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Science and National Pride: The Iranian Press Coverage of Nanotechnology, 2004-2009

Szczepan Lemańczyk

This study is the first attempt to study media representations of nanotechnology in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Content analysis has been used to investigate the potential risks and benefits of nanotechnology, centering on the dominating frames, themes, actors, and tone and on the geographical focus of the articles published in the Iranian daily press between 2004 and 2009. The results will offer a new perspective to the ongoing discussion on the social aspects of nanotechnology, looking at it through the lens of a different culture, religion, language, and sociopolitical system.

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