Jan 23, 2023 Conference Review
Science communication in Germany. A practice in transition

by Mhairi L. Stewart

Alongside informative discussions on Science Communication and Public Engagement, Forum Wissenschaftskommunikation 2022 reveals a field, a practice, and a community in transition. In and out of session discussions uncovered underlying tensions as well as potential synergies along a spectrum of practice between established disseminatory methodologies and participatory approaches. The future for best practice, collaboration, and growth for science communication in Germany will be a fascinating one to track.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Jan 18, 2023 Article
`Pandem-icons' — exploring the characteristics of highly visible scientists during the Covid-19 pandemic

by Marina Joubert, Lars Guenther, Jenni Metcalfe, Michelle Riedlinger, Anwesha Chakraborty, Toss Gascoigne, Bernard Schiele, Ayelet Baram-Tsabari, Dmitry Malkov, Eliana Fattorini, Gema Revuelta, Germana Barata, Jan Riise, Justin T. Schröder, Maja Horst, Margaret Kaseje, Marnell Kirsten, Martin W. Bauer, Massimiano Bucchi, Natália Flores, Orli Wolfson and Tingjie Chen

The Covid-19 pandemic escalated demand for scientific explanations and guidance, creating opportunities for scientists to become publicly visible. In this study, we compared characteristics of visible scientists during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic (January to December 2020) across 16 countries. We find that the scientists who became visible largely matched socio-cultural criteria that have characterised visible scientists in the past (e.g., age, gender, credibility, public image, involvement in controversies). However, there were limited tendencies that scientists commented outside their areas of expertise. We conclude that the unusual circumstances created by Covid-19 did not change the phenomenon of visible scientists in significant ways.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Jan 16, 2023 Article
Media as mediators in a science-based issue: politics, foreign influence and implications on adoption of Genetically Modified Organisms in food production in Uganda

by Ivan Nathanael Lukanda, Sara Namusoga-Kaale and George Claassen

The paper highlights the feedback loop between media, politics, foreign influence and science in relation to the adoption of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in food production in Uganda to demonstrate that socio-cultural considerations are important in the GMO science and technology debates. Based on the science-in-society model, the findings from a content analysis of newspaper articles over a four-year period, supplemented by interviews with scientists, activists from non-governmental organisations, journalists, and Members of Parliament's Science and Technology Committee, the study found that food is a politically thick issue. Both activists and scientists opportunistically use the media, the platforms where the public access and contribute content, to appeal to the politicians to legislate GMOs in their favour, arguing that the activists or the scientists' position is in the `public interest'. Often, such coverage produces a paradox for the public by accelerating uncertainty regarding the science and the products of genetic modification, especially when politicians fail to decide for fear of the political implications of their action as is the case in Uganda.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Jan 11, 2023 Article
Politics triumphs: A topic modeling approach for analyzing news media coverage of climate change in Pakistan

by Waqas Ejaz, Muhammad Ittefaq and Sadia Jamil

News media is one of the main sources of information for many people around the world on climate change. It not only increases awareness among the public but also has the potential to sensitize people toward climate change impacts. To date, few studies focus on media coverage of climate change in low-income countries such as Pakistan which is among the top ten countries impacted by global warming. This study used Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) topic modeling and analyzed 7,655 climate change-related news articles published between 2010 and 2021 in three Pakistani English newspapers. Our results suggest that climate change coverage in Pakistan has substantially increased over the years, however, the focus has generally been on “climate politics,” “climate governance and policy,” and “climate change and society.” Evolution of the different themes and their potential impacts on people are discussed.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Jan 09, 2023 Article
An environmental problem in the making: how media logic molds scientific uncertainty in the production of news about artificial turf in Sweden

by Ernesto Abalo and Ulrika Olausson

This study aims to contribute knowledge about how an environmental issue is discursively forged notwithstanding the prevalence of significant scientific uncertainty. This is done by studying the production of news about artificial turf as a microplastic pollutant in Sweden. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 journalists and editors, public officials, politicians, industry representatives and experts, all involved in the issue of artificial turf. The study shows how media logic, among other factors, informs the interpretations of the uncertainties surrounding artificial turf as an environmental problem and concludes that the power of media logic needs to be considered also in the construction of other scientifically charged issues.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Dec 21, 2022 Book Review
Science communicaton and rhetorics — a review of `Recontextualized Knowledge. Rhetoric – Situation – Science Communication'

by Annette Leßmöllmann and Monika Hanauska

In their anthology, Olaf Kramer and Markus Gottschling demonstrate that a closer look at rhetoric as both the technique and the analytical tool concerned with persuasion can open up new perspectives on science communication for communication scientists as well as for practitioners.

Volume 21 • Issue 07 • 2022

Dec 19, 2022 Article
Debunking strategies for misleading bar charts

by Winnifred Wijnker, Ionica Smeets, Peter Burger and Sanne Willems

Graphs are useful to communicate concisely about complex issues. Although they facilitate intuitive reading of data, trends, and predictions, hasty readers may still come to the wrong conclusions, especially if graphs are misleading due to violated design conventions. To provide evidence about how to prevent misinformation from spreading by misleading graphs, this two-survey experimental study investigates the effectiveness of four correction methods as debunking strategies to correct bar charts with manipulated vertical axes. All four methods showed positive effects. The most effective one is aimed at correcting the initial image by presenting an accurate alternative graph. A reduced effect remained visible after one week.

Volume 21 • Issue 07 • 2022

Dec 14, 2022 Book Review
Put to the test: science communication in crisis situations

by Lars Guenther

Risk and crisis situations can put science communication to the test, but systematic approaches to science communication in relation to crisis communication are still missing. “Science communication in times of crisis”, edited by Pascal Hohaus and published in 2022, is about this relationship. The book review provides an overview, a summary, and a short criticism of this edited volume. As will be outlined, while the book is a valuable contribution to the field, its overall aims could have been more strongly tied together.

Volume 21 • Issue 07 • 2022

Dec 12, 2022 Article
Organizational and societal goals in tension? A survey of communication practitioners at Swiss higher education institutions

by Silke Fürst, Sophia Charlotte Volk, Mike S. Schäfer, Daniel Vogler and Isabel Sörensen

The public communication of higher education institutions (HEIs) has gained importance both in practice and research and can serve different goals. Many scholars argue that HEI communication departments mainly aim to promote their organization and are less concerned with broader societal goals and normative principles of communication. Since these assumptions have not yet been explored empirically, we surveyed 203 communication practitioners from all 42 Swiss HEIs on their role conceptions and the quality criteria used in their communication departments. Our results show no general dominance of organizational over societal goals and revealed few differences between different types of HEIs.

Volume 21 • Issue 07 • 2022

Dec 07, 2022 Article
Perceptions of public communication on archaeology and heritage. The case of the scientists of Atapuerca (Spain)

by María Eugenia Conforti and Juan Ignacio Legaria

This paper presents an analysis of the scientists' perceptions of public communication on the scientific themes related to the archaeological sites of Atapuerca (Spain), which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Based on a qualitative/ethnographic methodology, testimonies from researchers were collected on the impact of dissemination in the field of heritage and scientific culture. Findings show a communication imprint that is inherent to the scientific and management project, in which the stakeholders perceive a great public responsibility.

Volume 21 • Issue 07 • 2022

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