Although disagreements between journalists and scientists on how to properly report science is an issue  broadly discussed in the international literature and a theme included in science communication conferences, in Mexico there are few analyzes that look at both actors assessing their own liability in the way science is finally reported in the media. Along with the creation of the Communication Unit at  the Institute of Physics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (IFUNAM) in August 2011, we started monitoring most of the news related to the Institute appearing in  the  mass  media  (newspapers,  magazines, radio and TV). In two years, a total of 121 items reporting different issues from IFUNAM were detected: research (58), physicists’ opinion on other scientific topics (23), IFUNAM’s community (20), science promotion produced by the researchers (11), and science policy or financing issues (9). From these data, we can obtain useful indicators to improve the institution’s communication strategy but also some clues about the research topics that are preferably covered by the media and the physicists’ perceptions of how these are reported. In order to analyze this symbiosis, we chose 10 items (2 from TV, 3 from newspapers, 2 from radio, 2 from news agencies and 1 from magazines) and distributed two questionnaires: one to the reporter who authored the article/program and another to the scientist whose work was covered. Scientists and journalists were asked to evaluate a) the final product in terms of how accurate was the research reported, and b) their own role in the news’ making process: their prior work to the interview, the accuracy of the questions/answers, their contribution in the edition process, etc. This  exercise, though limited and statistically insignificant, provides some results on the way journalists and scientists see each other and their role in the media coverage. It also may be useful to strengthen the communication strategy at the IFUNAM and perhaps in other science institutes interested in supporting media to improve their science coverage without compromising their independence.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Assessment of physicists and journalists toward media coverage of physics news in Mexico

Aleida Rueda   Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico

Although disagreements between journalists and scientists on how to properly report science is an issue  broadly discussed in the international literature and a theme included in science communication conferences, in Mexico there are few analyzes that look at both actors assessing their own liability in the way science is finally reported in the media. Along with the creation of the Communication Unit at  the Institute of Physics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (IFUNAM) in August 2011, we started monitoring most of the news related to the Institute appearing in  the  mass  media  (newspapers,  magazines, radio and TV). In two years, a total of 121 items reporting different issues from IFUNAM were detected: research (58), physicists’ opinion on other scientific topics (23), IFUNAM’s community (20), science promotion produced by the researchers (11), and science policy or financing issues (9). From these data, we can obtain useful indicators to improve the institution’s communication strategy but also some clues about the research topics that are preferably covered by the media and the physicists’ perceptions of how these are reported. In order to analyze this symbiosis, we chose 10 items (2 from TV, 3 from newspapers, 2 from radio, 2 from news agencies and 1 from magazines) and distributed two questionnaires: one to the reporter who authored the article/program and another to the scientist whose work was covered. Scientists and journalists were asked to evaluate a) the final product in terms of how accurate was the research reported, and b) their own role in the news’ making process: their prior work to the interview, the accuracy of the questions/answers, their contribution in the edition process, etc. This  exercise, though limited and statistically insignificant, provides some results on the way journalists and scientists see each other and their role in the media coverage. It also may be useful to strengthen the communication strategy at the IFUNAM and perhaps in other science institutes interested in supporting media to improve their science coverage without compromising their independence.

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

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