This paper presents the results of an investigation concerning the methods of research of science journalists in Germany. For this purpose a representative survey was realized in 1995. Science journalists from different types of media have been included (print media, newsagencies, private and public broadcasting stations, freelancers). The survey has been based on a basic sample of 1700 science journalists. Our definition of ”science” included ”hard” sciences, like physics, as well as social and human sciences, like psychology or history. From the basic sample we extracted 350 journalists via a stratified random sampling. Sixty-four per cent of these 350 questionnaires were sent back. From Weischenberg etal. (”Journalismus in Deutschland”, 1994), an investigation based on the complete sample of all journalists in Germany (54.531), we infer that about three per cent of German journalists are science journalists.

According to our results, one of three science journalists is working as a freelancer. Most of the regularly employed journalists work for daily newspapers (39 %) and for magazines (23 %). Science journalists spend most of their time in research, writing and editing. On the average, the time spent for research is about 90 minutes per day, with significant differences between the types of media. We observed that the journalists mainly rely on the typical sources of scientific information: scientific publications (#1),interviews with scientists (#2) and conferences (#5 of 16 items). Research in data banks, including the internet, and Expertenvermittlungen like the ”Media Ressource Service”, played a minor role for science journalists, at least in 1995. About a third of all science journalists had already done research via the world wide web and 21 % used one of the Epertenvermittlungen. However, the tendency is increasing since the investigation of Weischenberg et al. found only 18 % of journalists with experiences in these fields, an increase which we assume to have continued since 1995.

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Methods of research of science journalists in Germany

Ursula Stamm  

This paper presents the results of an investigation concerning the methods of research of science journalists in Germany. For this purpose a representative survey was realized in 1995. Science journalists from different types of media have been included (print media, newsagencies, private and public broadcasting stations, freelancers). The survey has been based on a basic sample of 1700 science journalists. Our definition of ”science” included ”hard” sciences, like physics, as well as social and human sciences, like psychology or history. From the basic sample we extracted 350 journalists via a stratified random sampling. Sixty-four per cent of these 350 questionnaires were sent back. From Weischenberg etal. (”Journalismus in Deutschland”, 1994), an investigation based on the complete sample of all journalists in Germany (54.531), we infer that about three per cent of German journalists are science journalists.

According to our results, one of three science journalists is working as a freelancer. Most of the regularly employed journalists work for daily newspapers (39 %) and for magazines (23 %). Science journalists spend most of their time in research, writing and editing. On the average, the time spent for research is about 90 minutes per day, with significant differences between the types of media. We observed that the journalists mainly rely on the typical sources of scientific information: scientific publications (#1),interviews with scientists (#2) and conferences (#5 of 16 items). Research in data banks, including the internet, and Expertenvermittlungen like the ”Media Ressource Service”, played a minor role for science journalists, at least in 1995. About a third of all science journalists had already done research via the world wide web and 21 % used one of the Epertenvermittlungen. However, the tendency is increasing since the investigation of Weischenberg et al. found only 18 % of journalists with experiences in these fields, an increase which we assume to have continued since 1995.

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