Although there is a considerable literature that explores the relations between scientists, journalists and the public, there is a surprising dearth of quantitative evidence to buttress assertions about the quality of news coverage. While there is little dissension how to systematically measure a range of indicators regarding press coverage, there have been few ongoing monitors to formally assess science journalism performance.    

This paper analyzes the Los Angeles Times’ and the Washington Post’s science, medical and environmental coverage at four biennial intervals from 1989-1995. Outcome measures indicate the percentage of stories where there is evidence of: an episodic and event-orientation; issue oriented reporting; a human interest orientation; an educational orientation; a conflict orientation plus focus on pioneer science and ’textbook’ science.    

The paper examines if changes within these variables are statistically significant. A six year time frame provides perspective to compare and assess some applied aspects of science coverage.
 

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Science, medicine and environment coverage in the los angeles times and the Washington post
A six year perspective

Robert Logan   University of Missouri-Columbia

Although there is a considerable literature that explores the relations between scientists, journalists and the public, there is a surprising dearth of quantitative evidence to buttress assertions about the quality of news coverage. While there is little dissension how to systematically measure a range of indicators regarding press coverage, there have been few ongoing monitors to formally assess science journalism performance.    

This paper analyzes the Los Angeles Times’ and the Washington Post’s science, medical and environmental coverage at four biennial intervals from 1989-1995. Outcome measures indicate the percentage of stories where there is evidence of: an episodic and event-orientation; issue oriented reporting; a human interest orientation; an educational orientation; a conflict orientation plus focus on pioneer science and ’textbook’ science.    

The paper examines if changes within these variables are statistically significant. A six year time frame provides perspective to compare and assess some applied aspects of science coverage.
 

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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