Very diverse professional practices fall under the umbrella of science communication. However, in many areas in the field, the terms science communication and science journalism are often used interchangeably. Most research in the field has focused on media coverage studies, the study of the tensions and the conflictive relationship between scientists and journalists or the impact of the press in shaping and framing public perceptions about science and technology issues. In this line, training courses as well as graduate and postgraduate education programs in Science Communication have emphasized the need for development of media skills or tools to translate scientific discourse into a more journalistic discourse, as their main educational goals. In spite of the many efforts made in order to introduce actions and activities other than communicating science through the mass media, news format is still the most prevalent means of contact between science and their publics. Other practices, such as promoting public engagement and citizen participation in science and technology broaden the offer of museums and science centers or science events targeted to the greater public. Bridging the link between the arts and scientific knowledge in order to bring science closer to popular culture is still under-represented in the landscape of science communication practices and educational programs in the field. Is there a media bias in what we understand as science communication practices? Which are the assumptions underneath this dominant view? Is it the legacy of a way of doing science communication that has dominated the scene during the last century and that began to  change only during the last decades? Is it that the deficit model finds a more suitable way through the mass media and news formats? Why are journalists and scientists the most frequent professional profiles that specialize in this field? Are there other actors relevant to science communication? Who are they? How do they train and reach science communication practices? The proposed debate will be enriched by the contributions of 4 international referents in Science Communication, coming from different academic backgrounds and areas of professional expertise. “Much more than just news” The main questions of science communication are what is it, who does it and where and when to do it. As for the “what”, it is usually confused with scientific journalism, although the field expands to diverse activities ranging from non-formal science education to citizen science programs. In recent years the proliferation of forums to present “ideas and projects” has flourished and it could be argued that in some cases they could be included in the science communication field. In addition, the communication area has a diversity of actors, which include not only journalists but also scientists, teachers and designers. There‘s much more to science communication than just news. “Science journalists and science communicators can work as a team” Science communicators and science journalists can gain from each other. The Danish science center, Experimentarium, has experience in combining both. Over the last 5 years they have developed a news media center that supplements and works together with the large science communication team. This partnership is fruitful for both areas of expertise. It enables science centers to reach out to the larger public and also bring cutting edge science and scientists into the science centre. Journalists discover new ways of reaching their audience and new ways of collaborating in a diversity of science learning projects. “Creating stories is also a need for other formats in science communication” For a very long time, journalism has been the preferred means for communicating science. No wonder, journalism is part of the very definition of mass communication. To some extent, this has surely paved the way for a wide range of formats for direct meetings between the public, the audience, and the researchers, without any mediation or translation. The two approaches don‘t exclude each other, on the contrary, and the journalistic profession of creating stories is surely needed also in festivals and 60 science centres. Consequently, we will also see an increased interest from STS researchers to expand their research into new arenas.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Professional profiles in science communication
Is there a bias towards science journalism?

Sheena Laursen   Experimentarium, Denmark

Gema Revuelta   Science Communication Observatory, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain

Diego Golombek   Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina

Jenni Metcalfe   Director, Econnect Communication, Australia

Javier Cruz-Mena   National University of Mexico, Mexico

Very diverse professional practices fall under the umbrella of science communication. However, in many areas in the field, the terms science communication and science journalism are often used interchangeably. Most research in the field has focused on media coverage studies, the study of the tensions and the conflictive relationship between scientists and journalists or the impact of the press in shaping and framing public perceptions about science and technology issues. In this line, training courses as well as graduate and postgraduate education programs in Science Communication have emphasized the need for development of media skills or tools to translate scientific discourse into a more journalistic discourse, as their main educational goals. In spite of the many efforts made in order to introduce actions and activities other than communicating science through the mass media, news format is still the most prevalent means of contact between science and their publics. Other practices, such as promoting public engagement and citizen participation in science and technology broaden the offer of museums and science centers or science events targeted to the greater public. Bridging the link between the arts and scientific knowledge in order to bring science closer to popular culture is still under-represented in the landscape of science communication practices and educational programs in the field. Is there a media bias in what we understand as science communication practices? Which are the assumptions underneath this dominant view? Is it the legacy of a way of doing science communication that has dominated the scene during the last century and that began to  change only during the last decades? Is it that the deficit model finds a more suitable way through the mass media and news formats? Why are journalists and scientists the most frequent professional profiles that specialize in this field? Are there other actors relevant to science communication? Who are they? How do they train and reach science communication practices? The proposed debate will be enriched by the contributions of 4 international referents in Science Communication, coming from different academic backgrounds and areas of professional expertise. “Much more than just news” The main questions of science communication are what is it, who does it and where and when to do it. As for the “what”, it is usually confused with scientific journalism, although the field expands to diverse activities ranging from non-formal science education to citizen science programs. In recent years the proliferation of forums to present “ideas and projects” has flourished and it could be argued that in some cases they could be included in the science communication field. In addition, the communication area has a diversity of actors, which include not only journalists but also scientists, teachers and designers. There‘s much more to science communication than just news. “Science journalists and science communicators can work as a team” Science communicators and science journalists can gain from each other. The Danish science center, Experimentarium, has experience in combining both. Over the last 5 years they have developed a news media center that supplements and works together with the large science communication team. This partnership is fruitful for both areas of expertise. It enables science centers to reach out to the larger public and also bring cutting edge science and scientists into the science centre. Journalists discover new ways of reaching their audience and new ways of collaborating in a diversity of science learning projects. “Creating stories is also a need for other formats in science communication” For a very long time, journalism has been the preferred means for communicating science. No wonder, journalism is part of the very definition of mass communication. To some extent, this has surely paved the way for a wide range of formats for direct meetings between the public, the audience, and the researchers, without any mediation or translation. The two approaches don‘t exclude each other, on the contrary, and the journalistic profession of creating stories is surely needed also in festivals and 60 science centres. Consequently, we will also see an increased interest from STS researchers to expand their research into new arenas.

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

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