Five ways to sell the tsetse fly How both science and institutions are sold in press releases
In their daily hunt for a good news story journalists subscribing to the international online media platform for research news EurekAlert! have a lot of readymade science news to choose from. On an average day more than 100 different press releases on newly published research is posted by universities, scientific associations, societies, journals and PR companies. Sometimes the journalists can even choose between several versions of the same research story. One could therefore have the hypothesis, that institutions have more reasons for sending out press releases than just making sure the press is well informed about the newest research achievements. By applying a discourse text analyze to these press releases one extra reason turns out to be 'communicating the institutions' who took part in the research. This paper investigates a handful of cases where up to five different press releases are published about the same research result, all posted on EurekAlert! in 2014. By comparing the different press release texts on the exact same research result this paper shows how the way 'the science' and 'the institution' are sold to the news media is showing both similarities and differences dependent of who submitted the press release. The differences are seen in positioning, voices and who gets to run with the credit for the results presented, while the overall manuscript for communicating science in the news media turns out to be very similar and more independent of the sender of the press release. Effects of and reasons for this observed practice of multiple press release postings is discussed by including a media search from the online media database Meltwater to show how many online news stories were generated in the news media, who was cited and how, all related to the chosen cases.
A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.