PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


How journalists ask scientists?
The interview as an object of study

Aleida Rueda  

The genre of interview in science journalism has been analyzed in limited ways, specially in a Latin American context. The absence of research in this specific topic has made difficult to identify general criteria for assessing or performing good interviews in order to get useful information for generating high-quality journalistic products. Here, we analyze 30 interviews performed by Mexican journalists to researchers specialized in different topics of Physics. We witnessed and recorded each interview. We then created a protocol to analyze interviews based on different criteria such as: length of the interview, kind of questions made by journalists, their sources, previous research and critical attitude towards science, among others. The first aim of this work is to evaluate our own methodology to tests its functionality and replicability in different countries and contexts. Also, according to the type of questions that journalists made, we conclude most of them lack of enough journalistic research work to make useful interviews in order to develop high-quality journalistic products. This means most of interviews are guided by the principle of authority, leaving journalists defenseless, unquestioned towards scientists interests and unable to challenge or judge on the validity of the specific research work they are reporting. We see this work as the pilot of a broader analysis that seeks to evaluate different types of interviews made to scientists that can allow us to make comparisons between media and topics in different Latin American countries and, finally, to propose a methodology that can help journalists to report science accurately based on well-planned, structured and in-deep interviews.

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