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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
COVID-19 and (hydroxy)chloroquine: a dispute over scientific truth during Bolsonaro's weekly Facebook live streams

by Ana Carolina Pontalti Monari, Allan Santos and Igor Sacramento

As successive studies have shown that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are ineffective in treating COVID-19, this article investigates how the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, disputes the truth around science to convince the population that these drugs can save lives, preserve jobs and restore economic growth. Using Charaudeau's theory [Charaudeau, 2007, 2010} as a methodological framework, as well as understanding that right-wing populism has embodied post-truth communication as a distinctive feature of contemporary politics, we observed Bolsonaro's weekly Facebook live streams — known as ‘lives’ — for 14 weeks, identifying them as a communicative device that offers Bolsonaro the material conditions to interact directly with his public. Finally, we structured our analysis according to the three most common themes — questioning delays due to an insistence on scientific methodology, overvaluation of personal experiences and emphasis on individuals' freedom of choice — to observe the emotional images and discursive scenarios the Brazilian president stages to produce the intended pathemic effects of his discourse: hope and urgency; trust and distrust; freedom and polarization.

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

Dec 14, 2020 Editorial
COVID-19 and science communication: a JCOM special issue. Part 2

by Luisa Massarani, Padraig Murphy and Rod Lamberts

As COVID-19 continues its devastating pathway across the world, in this second part of the JCOM special issue on communicating COVID-19 and coronavirus we present further research papers and practice insights from across the world that look at specific national challenges, the issue of “fake news” and the possibilities of satire and humour in communicating the seriousness of the deadly disease.

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

Dec 14, 2020 Article
COVID-19 crisis memes, rhetorical arena theory and multimodality

by Rick Pulos

On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced the name of a new disease, COVID-19. As the virus that causes the disease spread across the globe, the world went into crisis mode. The various actors of the COVID-19 crisis include, in part, politicians, scientists, health experts, citizens, journalists, front line workers, first responders, organizations, and so on. Their voices and their related communicative processes play out in the rhetorical arena that emerges from the crisis. Crisis memes are a particularly intriguing and salient part of the COVID-19 public discourse. Combining the theoretical implications of rhetorical arena theory (RAT) with multimodality and its close ties to social semiotics, this paper will analyze the unique nature of memes created during the cycle of a crisis.

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

Dec 14, 2020 Article
COVID-19 in Brazil: an analysis about the consumption of information on social networks

by Luisa Massarani, Igor Waltz and Tatiane Leal

In this article, we analysed the 100 most engaging contents about COVID-19 on social networks in Brazil, in March 2020, when the disease officially arrived in the country. Within the infodemic context, we analysed the accuracy of the information and the reliability of the websites that guided the debate. Our results show that misinformation/disinformation accounted for 13.5% of the sample and that their average engagement was greater than the one for the information that could be verified in other sources and in accordance with scientific evidence. We also found that professional websites, especially journalistic ones, predominate among sources. The results point to the need to combine science communication strategies with network communication dynamics.

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

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

Dec 14, 2020 Article
YouTube as a source of information on chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine during the COVID-19 pandemic

by Thales Brandi Ramos, Luciana Castilho Bokehi, Raphael Castilho Bokehi, Taynah da Silava Pinheiro, Erika Barreto de Oliveira, Renan da SilvaGianoti Torres, Jose Raphael Bokehi, Sabrina Calil-Elias and Selma Rodrigues de Castilho

This research aimed to analyze the quality of the information conveyed through YouTube videos in Portuguese on the use of two medicines suggested for the treatment of COVID-19: chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. The ‘Brief DISCERN’ questionnaire was applied to assess the quality of the video content as well as baseline characteristics, such as length, views, likes and dislikes, in a total of 90 videos with almost 4,5 million views. Traditional media accounted for 58,89% of videos. Misleading information was present in most of the videos (63,5%). Despite the ease of access, the videos showed problems in the quality of information.

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

Nov 24, 2020 Commentary
Activists as strategic science communicators on the adoption of GMOs in Uganda

by Ivan Nathanael Lukanda

This commentary uses a case study of Uganda and the country's attempts to adopt genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to demonstrate how activists have become communicators of scientific knowledge in the digital age. The digital age allows activists to share their information and collaborate with those who can push their agenda. I argue that anti-GMO activists have positioned themselves as influencers in a debate where weight-of-scientific evidence seems to have been overshadowed by perceptions, largely driven by socio-democratic considerations that require participation in technological uptake.

Volume 19 • Issue 06 • 2020