Science news is a major resource to help the public understand new scientific knowledge. The latest technology development and research primarily utilizes English as the communication language in academic journals and scientific communities. Compiled science news therefore has become a major agent for many non-western societies to understand latest technology developments.

In Taiwan, for example, being a non-western society, the acquisition of new scientific knowledge often depends on foreign sources. Nonetheless, with the limitations within the infra-structure of the entire news industry, it is rather difficult to compile high- quality science news. First, journalists and editors often lack scientific background to produce science news accurately and precisely. Second, news compilation staff seldom read the original scientific reports and they usually report the news solely from western media’s second hand reports.

Based on this background, the study aims to investigate the changes in the scientific contents and meanings during that compiling process. We selected compiled science news from September 2009 to August 2010 in four major newspapers in Taiwan as research samples. In order to compare the message flow more precisely, the selected news must be traceable to find the quoted source or research. A total of 131 pieces of compiled science news were collected for analysis.

The results revealed two obvious gaps among compiling processes. The first gap was that the western media amended some meanings in the original scientific research in order to please the readers’ preferences. Such amendment included designing an amiable or attractive heading, purposely ignoring complicated research processes, and paying much more emphasis on the relationship between the research results and everyday lives. The second gap between western media reports and compiled news in Taiwan also was obvious. This was because most of the compilers deal with science news directly from the western media’s reports, and seldom go back to the original scientific research. In order to cater to Taiwanese readers, the headings therefore were twisted to be much more sensational and untrue.

Assuming that the distortion between the original research and the western media reports was the first media disaster for science news, the compiled science news in Taiwan undoubtedly produced the double media disaster. Such situations could also be a common problem for other non-western societies.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Double media disasters in non-western societies?
An analysis of compiled science news in taiwan

Chun-Ju Huang   National Chung Cheng University, General Education Center

Science news is a major resource to help the public understand new scientific knowledge. The latest technology development and research primarily utilizes English as the communication language in academic journals and scientific communities. Compiled science news therefore has become a major agent for many non-western societies to understand latest technology developments.

In Taiwan, for example, being a non-western society, the acquisition of new scientific knowledge often depends on foreign sources. Nonetheless, with the limitations within the infra-structure of the entire news industry, it is rather difficult to compile high- quality science news. First, journalists and editors often lack scientific background to produce science news accurately and precisely. Second, news compilation staff seldom read the original scientific reports and they usually report the news solely from western media’s second hand reports.

Based on this background, the study aims to investigate the changes in the scientific contents and meanings during that compiling process. We selected compiled science news from September 2009 to August 2010 in four major newspapers in Taiwan as research samples. In order to compare the message flow more precisely, the selected news must be traceable to find the quoted source or research. A total of 131 pieces of compiled science news were collected for analysis.

The results revealed two obvious gaps among compiling processes. The first gap was that the western media amended some meanings in the original scientific research in order to please the readers’ preferences. Such amendment included designing an amiable or attractive heading, purposely ignoring complicated research processes, and paying much more emphasis on the relationship between the research results and everyday lives. The second gap between western media reports and compiled news in Taiwan also was obvious. This was because most of the compilers deal with science news directly from the western media’s reports, and seldom go back to the original scientific research. In order to cater to Taiwanese readers, the headings therefore were twisted to be much more sensational and untrue.

Assuming that the distortion between the original research and the western media reports was the first media disaster for science news, the compiled science news in Taiwan undoubtedly produced the double media disaster. Such situations could also be a common problem for other non-western societies.

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

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