The study presented in this poster evaluates local media coverage of results from a New Zealand collaborative research project into the genetic basis for inherited stomach cancer. The story received extensive local and international coverage in March 1998, following a media release from the Health Research Council of New Zealand, which funded the two groups independently.

The HRC release focused on the partnership between the Maori whanau (extended family) and the University of Otago scientists, which was initiated by the whanau. The release also stressed the worldleading nature of the genetic discovery and identified the funders. A Nature news release provided another written story source, focusing on the identification of the familial stomach cancer gene in a forthcoming journal issue. The local print media coverage presented the project partners very differently from the HRC release.The scientists were described as active and dominant, compared to the whanau who were largelypresented as passive victims.

Our analysis juxtaposed the words used to describe each group. For example, the scientists identify mutations, carry out a genetic linkage analysis, develop a genetic blood test, present the findings and bring new hope to sufferers. Incontrast, the family co-researchers are plagued, struck down, afflicted and have suffered for generations. The few active roles ascribed to the whanau are weak compared to those assigned to the scientists. The whanau faced the problem, approached the scientists, with a ”cry for help”,compiled the whakapapa (genealogy) and offered key assistance. Only one newspaper described the whanau as directing the project.

The broadcast media coverage assigned the whanau a more active role, but as junior partners. Maori broadcast media offered alternative constructions of the research partners.

Strategies enabling collaborating research groups to be portrayed as active partners could include -Stressing the active leadership role of the indigenous group in the news release.

Background briefings for journalists from key media stressing this role.

Media training for both research teams.

Providing the indigenous team with advice from working indigenous journalists.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Media coverage of a collaboration between indigenous and genetics researchers:A case study

Jenny Rankine   Health Research Council of New Zealand

The study presented in this poster evaluates local media coverage of results from a New Zealand collaborative research project into the genetic basis for inherited stomach cancer. The story received extensive local and international coverage in March 1998, following a media release from the Health Research Council of New Zealand, which funded the two groups independently.

The HRC release focused on the partnership between the Maori whanau (extended family) and the University of Otago scientists, which was initiated by the whanau. The release also stressed the worldleading nature of the genetic discovery and identified the funders. A Nature news release provided another written story source, focusing on the identification of the familial stomach cancer gene in a forthcoming journal issue. The local print media coverage presented the project partners very differently from the HRC release.The scientists were described as active and dominant, compared to the whanau who were largelypresented as passive victims.

Our analysis juxtaposed the words used to describe each group. For example, the scientists identify mutations, carry out a genetic linkage analysis, develop a genetic blood test, present the findings and bring new hope to sufferers. Incontrast, the family co-researchers are plagued, struck down, afflicted and have suffered for generations. The few active roles ascribed to the whanau are weak compared to those assigned to the scientists. The whanau faced the problem, approached the scientists, with a ”cry for help”,compiled the whakapapa (genealogy) and offered key assistance. Only one newspaper described the whanau as directing the project.

The broadcast media coverage assigned the whanau a more active role, but as junior partners. Maori broadcast media offered alternative constructions of the research partners.

Strategies enabling collaborating research groups to be portrayed as active partners could include -Stressing the active leadership role of the indigenous group in the news release.

Background briefings for journalists from key media stressing this role.

Media training for both research teams.

Providing the indigenous team with advice from working indigenous journalists.

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

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