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May 05, 2021 Article
Female voices marginalised in media coverage of science in Uganda, both as authors and sources

by Ivan Nathanael Lukanda

Studies on women's marginalisation as authors and sources of science stories in the media in developing countries are few, and fewer in the context of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Using feminist media theory, this study surmises that women are accordingly underrepresented in GMO stories. Based on a content analysis of 317 stories published in two Ugandan newspapers, findings indicate that chances of females being published as authors and sources increase if they collaborate with a male. There is a need for female scientists to collaborate with male counterparts and journalists to increase their visibility in the media in an agricultural sector where women are great contributors to the labourforce.

Volume 20 • Issue 02 • 2021

Apr 12, 2021 Article
Policing orthodoxy on Wikipedia: Skeptics in action?

by Brian Martin

Wikipedia has been accused of being biased against challengers to scientific orthodoxy due to efforts by editors having affinities with the Skeptics movement. Examination of Wikipedia, including entries on fluoridation, the origin of AIDS and vaccination, reveals several characteristics typical of a Skeptics sensibility, including the definition of scepticism, lists of deviant ideas, derogatory labelling of heterodox viewpoints, and categories established without reference to reliable sources.

Volume 20 • Issue 02 • 2021

Apr 06, 2021 Article
Science in the media: the scientific community's perception of the COVID-19 media coverage in Spain

by Javier de Sola

The COVID-19 pandemic was the most prominent feature in the media in 2020. This research analyzes the scientific community's perception of the journalistic coverage of the pandemic in the Spanish media. Based on a survey with the participation of 818 respondents, the study revealed that scientists believe that radio did the best job in reporting the pandemic, whereas television did the worst. Among our findings, it is worthwhile to mention that — according to scientists — the media used sensationalistic tones and reports were not particularly accurate nor realistic. Finally, we included the scientific community's recommendations to treat the subject more appropriately.

Volume 20 • Issue 02 • 2021

Mar 29, 2021 Article
The coronavirus pandemic narratives in Italian digital media

by Jorge Milan Fitera, Natalia Abuín-Vences and Javier Sierra Sánchez

In this paper we discuss the SARS-CoV-2-related information coverage (beginning of the epidemic) in Italian digital media narratives. We surveyed the digital articles that reported the highest engagement level. The aim was to identify the most prominent variables (topics, players and news coverage area). Similarly, a discourse analysis was carried out by analyzing the tone used in relation to the variables mentioned. The results show that the most important topics were health, politics and the economy. Headlines appeared to be more likely to have a negative tone, although neutral headlines were the most common. The main feature in digital media headlines was civil society.

Volume 20 • Issue 02 • 2021

Mar 22, 2021 Article
The types of visible scientists

by Arko Olesk

We lack a good framework to characterize media-related adaptations of researchers. This paper explores Estonian scientists visible in the media to propose five dimensions to characterize the degree of mediatization of a researcher, and describes two basic types of visible scientists. Representatives of one type (‘adapters to media logic’) are able to explain the project simply and engagingly in the media, while those of the second type (‘adopters of media logic’) proactively create media interactions and manage them to achieve strategic aims. The results show how individual actors translate communication objectives into media practices, explaining variabilities in scientists' media presence.

Volume 20 • Issue 02 • 2021

Mar 01, 2021 Article
The newsworthiness of the “March for Science” in Germany: comparing news factors in journalistic media and on Twitter

by Lars Guenther, Georg Ruhrmann, Mercedes C. Zaremba and Natalie Weigelt

Germany was second in the number of March for Science participants. Applying news value theory, this article analyzes the newsworthiness of the 2018 March for Science in Germany, comparing journalistic (online) reporting on the march (N=86) and Twitter communication about #marchforscience (N=591). The results of the content analyses reveal that news factors were more frequent and reached higher intensities in journalistic reporting than on Twitter. Relevance, prominence, personalization, and influence were the news factors most emphasized by journalists. On Twitter, reach was the only news factor correlating with social media engagement (likes, comments, and retweets).

Volume 20 • Issue 02 • 2021

Feb 22, 2021 Practice Insight
Searching for the Sources of the Nile through a podcast: what did we find?

by Emanuele Fantini and Emilie Buist

Podcasts are gaining traction in academic practice and debates. This article reflects on the experience of “The Sources of the Nile”, a podcast on media, science, and water diplomacy. By presenting the podcast structure and production process, we sketch a “podcast pathway” that might serve as a guide for others. We share the results of a survey conducted among our listeners and we review the episodes discussing what we learned on distributions of voice, knowledge and water in the Nile basin. We conclude by reflecting on the connection between the technical production of the podcast and the type of knowledge that it generates, and by pointing at the importance of placing the podcast within a broader community of interests and practice.

Volume 20 • Issue 02 • 2021

Jan 11, 2021 Article
Differences in knowledge, uncertainty, and social context in four medical TV series from Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and the United States

by Yin-Yueh Lo and Chun-Ju Huang

Television series that mix real science and imagery science make up a fascinating genre in popular science. While previous research on entertainment media focuses on Western examples and seldom includes Asian TV series, this study explores how medicine is portrayed in four TV series located in a hospital setting which were broadcasted in Taiwan. Yet, they were produced in different cultures: Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and the United States. We found that the emphasis is more on the social contexts of medicine than on factual medical information. Yet, fictional TV series may be crucial for contextualizing science and science-based medicine.

Volume 20 • Issue 01 • 2021

Dec 14, 2020 Article
An examination of Tunisian fact-checking resources in the context of COVID-19

by Fredj Zamit, Arwa Kooli and Ikram Toumi

The study examines the effect of COVID-19 on the fact-checking resources in Tunisia. Through developing monographies, we traced the trajectory of most fact-checking platforms in the Tunisian media and explored their teams and working strategies. We noticed a clear spike in the creation of fact-checking platforms during and after February 2020 and determined that the pandemic created a context in which these platforms emerged and flourished. However, many of these platforms, were a product of journalists' individual initiatives and lacked a clear editorial and strategic inclusion of fact-checking. Besides, we found a lack of prior training and an absence of fact-checkers specialized in science and health communication.

Volume 19 • Issue 07 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part II, 2020

Dec 14, 2020 Article
Spikey blobs with evil grins: understanding portrayals of the coronavirus in South African newspaper cartoons in relation to the public communication of science

by Marina Joubert and Herman Wasserman

This study explores how South African newspaper cartoonists portrayed the novel coronavirus during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic. We show how these cartoons respond to the socio-economic and cultural contexts in the country. Our analysis of how cartoonists represent the novel coronavirus explain how they create meaning (and may influence public sentiments) using colour, morphological characteristics and anthropomorphism as visual rhetorical tools. From a total population of 497 COVID-19-related cartoons published in 15 print and online newspapers from 1 January to 31 May 2020, almost a quarter (24%; n=120) included an illustration of the coronavirus. Viruses were typically coloured green or red and attributed with human characteristics (most often evil-looking facial expressions) and with exaggerated, spikey stalks surrounding the virus body. Anthropomorphism was present in more than half of the 120 cartoons where the virus was illustrated (58%; n=70), while fear was the dominant emotional tone of the cartoons. Based on our analysis, we argue that editorial cartoons provide a useful source to help us understand the broader discursive context within which public communication of science operates during a pandemic.

Volume 19 • Issue 07 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part II, 2020