In this content analysis study, the event orientation, educational versus human interest context and extent of conflict reporting are empirically compared in the Los Angeles Times and the Ner York Times’ science and biomedical coverage from 1986-88. It is hypothesized that the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times’ science and medical news coverage should contain:

1. More stories orginating from episodic, event-orientation than stories generated by non episodic, event-orientation.

2. More stories with human interest detail than stories with an educational context.

3. More stories that emphasize conflicts among scientists than stories that do not emphasize conflicts among scientists.

The hypothesis that science and biomedical news is more episodic, or originated through publicity events, received some support. The hypothesis that conflicts among scientists and physicans are emphasized more frequently in science and biomedical reporting than stories without conflicts received modest support. The hypothesis that reportorial background in science and biomedical stories emphasize human interest rather than a broader educational context was not supported and reversed.

The study challenges if actual media performance is consistent with recent qualitative critiques of science and medical writing.

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Events, contexts and conflicts
A content analysis of the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times reporting of science and biomedicine

Robert A. Logan   University of Missouri

In this content analysis study, the event orientation, educational versus human interest context and extent of conflict reporting are empirically compared in the Los Angeles Times and the Ner York Times’ science and biomedical coverage from 1986-88. It is hypothesized that the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times’ science and medical news coverage should contain:

1. More stories orginating from episodic, event-orientation than stories generated by non episodic, event-orientation.

2. More stories with human interest detail than stories with an educational context.

3. More stories that emphasize conflicts among scientists than stories that do not emphasize conflicts among scientists.

The hypothesis that science and biomedical news is more episodic, or originated through publicity events, received some support. The hypothesis that conflicts among scientists and physicans are emphasized more frequently in science and biomedical reporting than stories without conflicts received modest support. The hypothesis that reportorial background in science and biomedical stories emphasize human interest rather than a broader educational context was not supported and reversed.

The study challenges if actual media performance is consistent with recent qualitative critiques of science and medical writing.

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