Science and media

11/01/2021

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.

14/12/2020

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.

14/12/2020

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.

14/12/2020

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.

14/12/2020

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.

14/12/2020

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.

14/12/2020

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.

14/12/2020

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.

26/10/2020

This paper analyzes a new initiative in Brazil’s ‘Ciência Hoje’ magazine, called “Interactive Articles”, aimed at understanding how stakeholders relate to interactivity when writing a science communication article. We investigated participation in two platforms (magazine website and Facebook page) and interviewed the authors concerning the tool’s impact on their articles. Comments were examined using intensity analysis and content analysis, while interviews were analyzed with the collective subject discourse method. The study concluded that the novel initiative presented positive results in terms of interactivity and was regarded as public engagement and contextual model of science communication from the interviewed authors.

30/09/2020

The devastating effects of COVID-19 and the speed of both the scientific and medical response and the public information requirements about frontline healthcare work, medical advances and policy and compliance measures has necessitated an intensity of science communication never seen before. This JCOM special issue — the first of two parts — looks at the challenges of communicating COVID-19 and coronavirus in the early spread of the disease in 2020. Here we present papers from across the world that demonstrate the scale of this challenge.

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