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Feb 26, 2023 Book Review
A Challenge for Media and Communication Studies: the Covid-19 Pandemic

by Rod Lamberts

Katarzyna Kopecka-Piech and Bartłomiej Łódzki’s edited volume, The Covid-19 Pandemic as a Challenge for Media and Communication Studies, could be of great utility to science communication scholars and teachers. The studies with contained within it address two overarching research questions. First, how have media and communication reality changed during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe? Second, how were media and communication studied effectively through that period? The volume features 17 individual studies calling on myriad methods and case examples. This diversity of approaches allows the editors to also address an important, implicit third question. In essence: what has it been like to conduct worthwhile, meaningful, and robust research under such unusual and extreme global circumstances? Each chapter is thorough, detailed and of a high technical standard. This is a book that would likely best serve experienced readers more than novices. The entire compendium bears clear witness to the dynamic nature of social research playing out against a context of enormous global instability.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Feb 07, 2023 Article
Spokespersons for science: examining social media influencers' popularization of controversial technologies on YouTube

by Jiemin Looi and Shirley S. Ho

An online experiment involving 251 Singaporeans assessed how social media influencers' (SMIs) prototypicality (i.e., embodiment of group attitudes) and social attraction affected their popularization of nuclear energy development. Participants exposed to a SMI with high prototypicality perceived the YouTube video more favorably, displayed greater intention to share the YouTube video, and possessed greater attitude intensity toward nuclear energy development. Participants displayed greater intention to share the YouTube video when the SMI had high social attraction and possessed moderate to high prototypicality. Conversely, participants displayed less intention to share the YouTube video when the SMI had low social attraction and prototypicality.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Jan 17, 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 08, 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 18, 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 13, 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 11, 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 04, 2022 Article
Politics, economy and society in the coverage of COVID-19 by elite newspapers in US, UK, China and Brazil: a text mining approach

by Luiz Felipe Fernandes Neves and Luisa Massarani

We analyzed 95,970 stories on COVID-19 published in 2020 by newspapers in US, UK, China and Brazil — countries marked by controversial management of the crisis. Through a text mining approach, we identified main topics, subjects, actors and the level of attention. The coverage was politicized in “The New York Times” and “Folha de S. Paulo”; focused on health aspects in “The Guardian”; and emphasized the economic situation in “China Daily”. In this sense, the pandemic has motivated a deeper approach to the multiple dimensions of science and health, pointing to a broader perspective of science communication.

Volume 21 • Issue 07 • 2022

Nov 27, 2022 Essay
Communicating science through competing logics and a science-art lens

by Anna Jonsson, Axel Brechensbauer and Maria Grafström

This essay takes a starting point in the well-known tension between the media logic and the scientific logic and the challenges when communicating science in a mediatized society. Building on the experience of engaging in research comics, both as a method for communicating science and a creative example of a meeting between science and art, we introduce a framework — a pedagogical tool — for how science communication can be understood through the two competing logics. We contribute to literature about the balancing act of being a ‘legitimate expert’ and a ‘visible scientist’, and suggest that the meeting between science and art can be understood as a lens for how to communicate science that goes beyond the deficit model.

Volume 21 • Issue 07 • 2022

Nov 20, 2022 Article
I Am a Scientist... Ask Me Anything: explicating the role of past behavioral attitudes on scientists' future public engagement intentions

by Austin Y. Hubner and Robert Bond

There is growing pressure within the scientific community for scientists to participate in public engagement of science (PES) activities. As such, science communication scholars have worked to identify factors that predict a scientist's intention to participate in PES activities. One factor that has not been explicated is the role of experience performing PES activities in the past on one's future behavioral intentions. Using an augmented theory of planned behavior, we examine how one's experience participating in a question-and-answer forum on the popular website Reddit affected scientists' willingness to participate in a future PES activity.

Volume 21 • Issue 07 • 2022