The last five years has seen a significant increase in the amount of resources and manpower put into science communication in Europe. The current focus on science and innovation as a pivotal part of the Lisbon Strategy/Barcelona Goals in the EU has strengthened this development. In Denmark this has been enhanced even further by a government policy stressing better science communication as a prerequisite for better science funding.  In other words: if scientists want better public funding, they have to convince the public that the money will be well  spent. This is seen for example in the new university law that stresses the obligation of scientists to communicate their work  to a broad audience. Recently a study of 1200 Danish researchers showed that they see the news media  (newspapers, television, radio) as the best way  of communicating their work to a broad audience. The study reflects a strong sentiment in the Danish research  community, that news media should share the strategic goals of scientists and the government to encourage people and  especially young people to take a keener interest in science. My point however is that the news media cannot do that. Our role  as responsible media is to question these priorities, not to be a part of a publicity campaign for  science. This will lead me to a general discussion on the importance of the news media doing proper science journalism  instead of science communication. In an analogy to the political debate, science communication can be equated to political  spin doctoring. Science journalism takes the role of proper political journalism. And just as critical political journalism is better at raising political literacy than spin doctoring, so is proper, critical science journalism the best way to  raise scientific literacy. Using examples from Politiken I would like to try and define what distinguishes science  journalism from science  communication.

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How do news media best contribute to scientific literacy?

Morten Jaastrup   Politiken Newspaper, Denmark

The last five years has seen a significant increase in the amount of resources and manpower put into science communication in Europe. The current focus on science and innovation as a pivotal part of the Lisbon Strategy/Barcelona Goals in the EU has strengthened this development. In Denmark this has been enhanced even further by a government policy stressing better science communication as a prerequisite for better science funding.  In other words: if scientists want better public funding, they have to convince the public that the money will be well  spent. This is seen for example in the new university law that stresses the obligation of scientists to communicate their work  to a broad audience. Recently a study of 1200 Danish researchers showed that they see the news media  (newspapers, television, radio) as the best way  of communicating their work to a broad audience. The study reflects a strong sentiment in the Danish research  community, that news media should share the strategic goals of scientists and the government to encourage people and  especially young people to take a keener interest in science. My point however is that the news media cannot do that. Our role  as responsible media is to question these priorities, not to be a part of a publicity campaign for  science. This will lead me to a general discussion on the importance of the news media doing proper science journalism  instead of science communication. In an analogy to the political debate, science communication can be equated to political  spin doctoring. Science journalism takes the role of proper political journalism. And just as critical political journalism is better at raising political literacy than spin doctoring, so is proper, critical science journalism the best way to  raise scientific literacy. Using examples from Politiken I would like to try and define what distinguishes science  journalism from science  communication.

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