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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 05, 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 28, 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 21, 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

Nov 16, 2022 Book Review
Balancing practice and research: a framework for strategic science communication

by Sara K. Yeo

In ‘Strategic Science Communication: A Guide to Setting the Right Objectives for More Effective Public Engagement’, authors John Besley and Anthony Dudo recognize the existing divide between practice and research in science communication and work to bridge this gap. The authors admirably balance actionable information for practitioners and the theoretical literatures underpinning them. Both of the book’s intended audiences, practitioners and researchers, can glean informative insight from its pages. The text focuses on 12 communication objectives that research suggests are at the core of effective science communication and each chapter is written using straightforward language that makes the book accessible for newcomers to the discipline. For the time-pressed science communication practitioner, each chapter includes a summary with driving questions that relate to implementation of the tactic covered in that chapter. For scholars in science communication, the chapters are good starting points for deeper examination of the related literature. Throughout the book, the authors acknowledge that the strategic communication of science is a significant challenge, one that is not to be taken lightly and can, and should, be evidence-based.

Volume 21 • Issue 07 • 2022

Sep 28, 2022 Article
How issue entrepreneurs shape public discourse of controversial science: examining GMO discussion on a popular Chinese Q&A platform

by Kaiping Chen and Yepeng Jin

Social media have become popular channels for sharing and discussing science issues. Drawing from the classic communication theory, Public Arena Model, this paper examines how issue entrepreneurs influenced the Chinese public's cognition of GMO, especially the role of celebrities and scientists in controversial science communication. To answer this question, we used the structural topic modeling method to examine public discussion about GMO on a popular Q&A site in China (Zhihu) from 2014 to 2019 (N=40,101). In study 1, we investigated what the major themes of public discourse are about GMO and the evolution of these themes in general. In study 2, we investigated public discourse in a more specific context, an iconic event in China's GMO history, a debate between a TV celebrity and a scientist, to examine how two major issue entrepreneurs influenced what and how the public deliberated GMO. We found that the issue entrepreneurs' debate increased public discussion on the ‘science communication’ aspect of GMO yet decreased public discussion on the ‘science’ of GMO. Supporters of different entrepreneurs are divided in their attitudes and rhetoric toward GMO. These findings shed new light on how social media is a digital embodiment of the public arena where public deliberation about controversial science occur and evolve.

Volume 21 • Issue 06 • 2022

Sep 05, 2022 Essay
Opportunities for poaching: using the public's enjoyment of popular culture to foster dialogues around genetics

by Jonathan Roberts, Richard Milne, Anna Middleton, Christine Patch and Katherine Morley

Introduction: Engagement, education and communication with public audiences have long been seen as important for maximising the benefits of genetics and genomics. An important challenge is how to structure engagement in such a way that recognises the value and legitimacy of diverse public opinions and voices alongside scientific expertise. In other words, how to operationalise the dialogue model of science communication. In order for diverse public voices to be heard it is important to understand the resources that people have to make sense of science on their own terms. In this paper we provide a framework for how people's resources can be identified in relation to the culture they consume. Methods: A cross sectional online survey (n=1407) explored the cultural tastes and practices of a representative British public audience. Latent class analysis identified groups with similar cultural practices. Regression analysis was used to explore the relationship between the latent classes and other measures, such beliefs about genetics. Results: Three latent classes were identified each with distinctive cultural practices and tastes. Some clear relationships were found between the latent classes and familiarity with genetic terminology. However, for more complex beliefs, such as genetic causation, regression analysis yielded null or uncertain results with no clear correlation found. Discussion: This paper provides an analysis of how people's enjoyment of culture could be a resource for understanding and advancing science communication and engagement. The results are discussed using two complementary theoretical frameworks. Using Bourdieu's concept of cultural capital, the exclusionary power culture can be seen. The work of De Certaeu, on the other hand, shows how this power can be resisted and subverted. While this paper focuses on genetics and genomics we argue that this approach provides a `proof of concept' that these ideas can be extended for use in wider science engagement contexts.

Volume 21 • Issue 06 • 2022

Aug 29, 2022 Article
Vaccination rates in Europe are not associated with online media intensity

by Catarina Luís, Veronica Romina Di Marzo, Mandeep Kaur, Christos Argyropoulos, Declan Devane, Fiona Anne Stewart, George Antoniou, Greet Hendrickx, Helena Hervius Askling, Margot Hellemans, Miriam Cohen, Orly Spivak, Pierre Van Damme, Rebecca Jane Cox, Sirkka Vene, Sofie Sibia, Zoi Dorothea Pana, Ole Olesen and on behalf of VACCELERATE Consortium

To map the public information about COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine trials in Europe, we have compiled an inventory of online communication materials from official sources (e.g., governments, public agencies, and NGOs) via directed online research. While information for the general public was abundant across Europe, we found a large variation in number, type and target audiences among countries. Little or no information was found for population groups that are typically underrepresented in vaccine clinical trials. Materials about clinical trials and trial participation were also limited. Interestingly, higher number of media materials was not reflected in higher national vaccination rates.

Volume 21 • Issue 05 • 2022

Jul 25, 2022 Essay
CLADISTICS ruined my life: intersections of fandom, internet memes, and public engagement with science

by Luke-Elizabeth Gartley

In an increasingly mediated culture, social institutions such as science, public health, and civic engagement exist within the same modes of discourse as popular media. As a human endeavor, science is also a cultural phenomenon, and there are webs of multidirectional and layered communication that occur between formal science communication, pop science, and, indeed, popular media. For public participants, engagement with science and entertainment may be one in the same. This essay draws from research of transformative works, fan studies, and memetics to examine how the public engages with science and popular media within digital cultures.

Volume 21 • Issue 05 • 2022