Many science communication activities identify children as their main target. There are several reasons for this, even if, quite often, they are not expressed explicitly, as if children were a somehow “natural” public for science. On the contrary, we can observe a high level of complexity in the children agenda to engage with science, and in the science institution agendas for targeting children. But this does not seem to be followed but the same level of complexity in devising science engagement activities for children. The profound transformation of the scope and understanding of science communication that we have observed in recent years, in which keywords as dialogue, participation and empowerment have become essential, has only partially touched the younger public, which remains in most cases considered as a spectator for science.
For lay people, mass media are the main source of scientific information; that is why science journalists’ selection and depiction of scientific issues is an important field to study. This paper investigates science journalists’ general issue selection and additionally focuses on science journalists’ depiction of nanoscale science and technology and its related scientific evidence (certainty/uncertainty of research findings). Face-to-face interviews with science journalists (n = 21) from different German media channels were conducted. The results show that the professional role conception, personal interest, news factors and organizational processes mainly influence the selection of science journalists. Overall, journalists have increasingly positive attitudes towards nanoscale science and technology. But results indicate that the coverage of scientific evidence differs according to the science journalists’ focus on beneficial or risky aspects of this emerging technology: journalists stress scientific uncertainty predominantly when discussing the risks of nanoscale science and technology.
Scientists intermittently appear on television news as experts to inform and comment on current events. This study explores whether their appearance adds a critical measure of substantiated arguments and balanced judgements to public affairs reporting. An explorative analysis of a representative sample of news broadcasts from five public broadcasters in Western Europe in 2006 and 2007 suggests that this is to some extent the case. The implications of these findings for the deliberative quality of TV news are discussed, and a typology of scientific experts in the general news items is proposed.
Citizen Science (or “Public Participation in Scientific Research”), has attracted attention as a new way of engaging the public with science through recruiting them to participate in scientific research. It is often seen as a win-win solution to promoting public engagement to scientists as well as empowering the public and in the process enhancing science literacy. This paper presents a qualitative study of interviews with scientists and communicators who participated in the “OPAL” project, identifying three potential flashpoints where conflicts can (though not necessarily do) arise for those working on citizen science professionally. We find that although participation in the CS project was generally valued, it does not seem to overcome continuing (and widely reported) concerns about public engagement. We suggest that enthusiasm for win-win situations should be replaced with more realistic expectations about what scientists can expect to get out of CS-style public engagement.
Science is part of our everyday live; so is art. Some art installations that link the two require the active presence of the spectator. Thereby they help to raise the awareness, promote understanding, and generate an emotional response from the public. This project rests on the public participation model that seeks to explore the connection between art installations and science communication through experiential learning. In order to test the effectiveness of an art installation communicating science two groups were contrasted. The first was exposed to a list of scientific facts; the second participated in the creation of an art installation. The results of this research suggest that art installations do promote long-term fact retention. Therefore, the use of art installations can be considered an interesting method of conveying science in an attractive, reliable, and memorable way.
This paper analyses the adoption of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) by Spanish journalists specialising in science. Applying an ethnographic research model, this study was based on a wide sample of professionals, aiming to evaluate the extent by which science journalists have adopted the new media and changed the way they use information sources. In addition, interviewees were asked whether in their opinion the Web 2.0 has had an impact on the quality of the news. The integration of formats certainly implies a few issues for today’s newsrooms. Finally, with the purpose of improving the practice of science information dissemination, the authors put forward a few proposals, namely: Increasing the training of Spanish science journalists in the field of new technologies; Emphasising the accuracy of the information and the validation of sources; Rethinking the mandates and the tasks of information professionals.
In the editorial of this issue of JCOM, we underline how children are on one hand one of the main target group for science communication, and on the other hand a largely excluded group in the shift from a linear diffusion model to a dialogic model of science communication. In this series of comments, stimulated by the EU - FP7-Science in society project `SiS-Catalyst - 2013 children as change agents for science in society' (a four year programme aimed at crossing the science in society and the social inclusion agendas), we would like to explore methods and approaches that can ensure that, in science communication contexts, children can be listened to, that they are given the chance to express their view, and that they can be empowered in building their own relationship with science, and thus a sense of ownership for scientific knowledge.