Science and media

17/04/2018

While most researchers still primarily use emails and simple websites for professional communication, the number of specialised online portals, information services and scholarly social online networks is constantly growing. This development led to the 6th workshop organized by the team of openTA, an online portal for technology assessment. This issue of JCOM pools commentaries on the workshop which deal with questions such as: what are the criteria of successful digital infrastructures? Which potential for changing workflows or scholarly interaction and collaboration patterns do we ascribe to digital infrastructures?

04/04/2018

April marks a milestone in the history of JCOM, with the launch of new features for the International, English language journal alongside the launch of a sister journal, JCOM América Latina which will cater for the dynamic and fast growing Spanish and Portuguese speaking science communication community. Luisa Massarani, a long standing JCOM Editorial Board member, has led the development of JCOM América Latina and will act as the Editor for the new journal. JCOM and JCOM América Latina will work closely together, providing free, open access publishing for science communication research across the globe.

20/03/2018

Science permeates nearly every facet of human life and civilization. However, in an age of media oversaturation, it has been increasingly easier for pseudoscientific information to be disseminated among the masses, especially by those with a political agenda. In his book, ‘Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science’, author Dave Levitan creates a guidebook for spotting and debunking unscientific ideas in the political sphere, a vital tool in the Information Age.

13/03/2018

Climate change is a global risk as its causes and effects are not limited to national borders, but the risks and the responsibility are not evenly spread [Beck, 2009]. Pakistan is facing especially severe impacts in the form of disasters, floods, droughts, rising temperatures, cyclones and rising sea levels due to global emissions, despite its national emissions being nominal and accounting for only 0.46% of worldwide emissions [World Bank, 2018]. Ironically, the level of public awareness of climate change is low in Pakistan compared to not only advanced countries, but also to other countries in the South Asian region [Zaheer and Colom, 2013]. A contributing factor behind this is the communication gap between the media and the broader public. This study aims to explore the factors responsible for the limited coverage of climate change in the news media, leading to confusion, uncertainty, denial and low levels of climate change awareness in Pakistan. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with media professionals and the findings show that political, economic, social, cultural, technological and scientific factors influence the news coverage of climate change issues.

06/03/2018

The rise of artificial intelligence has recently led to bots writing real news stories about sports, finance and politics. As yet, bots have not turned their attention to science, and some people still mistakenly think science is too complex for bots to write about. In fact, a small number of insiders are now applying AI algorithms to summarise scientific research papers and automatically turn them into simple press releases and news stories. Could the science beat be next in line for automation, potentially making many science reporters --- and even editors --- superfluous to science communication through digital press? Meanwhile, the science journalism community remains largely unaware of these developments, and is not engaged in directing AI developments in ways that could enhance reporting.

27/02/2018

The 10th World Conference of Science Journalists (San Francisco, U.S.A., 26–30 October 2017) was the most successful to date in terms of participants and probably the one with the largest presence of journalists from the developing world among its attendees and speakers. In agreement with the times, its themes were marked by ethical dilemmas in the communication of science, fake news and climate change, among others.

20/02/2018

If Truth Be Told is a collection of essays on the politics of public ethnography and focuses on seasoned anthropologists' reflexive and critical engagement with public responses to their monographs. Fassin's primary purpose is to provide an ethnography of publicization. The book illuminates how public responses reflect and are affected by hegemonic sociopolitical realities and sociocultural practices and impact on the life and work of anthropologists. Of special interest is to what effect contributors take up different roles such as the role of expert to advocate for a more nuanced, non-hegemonic and contextualized understanding of marginalized people or specific groups.

13/02/2018

This book is a beginners' guide to science journalism, explaining the 21st century journalistic process, from generating story ideas to creating multimedia content when the story's written, taking in research and writing structures along the way. While many of the chapters are introductory, the book also covers topics also likely to be of interest to more experienced writers, such as storytelling techniques and investigative journalism. Readers are introduced to important debates in the field, including the role that science journalism plays; whether it is a form of `infotainment', or whether its primary role is to hold scientists and the science industry to account. Taken as a whole, what the book does particularly well is to introduce prospective science writers to the judgements they need to make as reflective practitioners.

12/10/2017

Research suggests non-experts associate different content with the terms “global warming” and “climate change.” We test this claim with Twitter content using supervised learning software to categorize tweets by topic and explore differences between content using “global warming” and “climate change” between 1 January 2012 and 31 March 2014. Twitter data were combined with temperature records to observe the extent to which temperature was associated with Twitter discussions. We then used two case studies to examine the relationship between extreme temperature events and Twitter content. Our findings underscore the importance of considering climate change communication on social media.

20/09/2017

In June of 2014, geologists reported that, for the first time, more earthquakes greater than magnitude 3.0 occurred in Oklahoma than in California [Terry-Cobo, 2014]. In Oklahoma, the frequency of earthquakes that are strong enough to be felt has increased 44 times in recent years and this has been correlated to a dramatic increase in high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHHF) operations [Hume, 2014]. The aims of this study are: (1) to determine how hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, and Oklahoma earthquakes are framed by print-based media at the local, national, and international levels; (2) to understand how the association between these factors has evolved over time; and (3) to further analyze the differences between experts on the subjects of causality and threat characterization (e.g., severity). A total of 169 print news reports were included for analysis: 48 local/Oklahoma reports (28% of total sample), 72 national reports (42% of total sample) and 49 international news reports (30% of total sample). The findings reveal significant differences in the frame techniques, sources of information, and the foci of subject matter between three different media scales in print based media. Results, discussion and implications are provided.

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