PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Towards Participatory Science Journalism

Marie Boran  

This paper provides a state-of-the-art on participatory journalism practices within mainstream science journalism. It explores the concept of Participatory Science Journalism as a well-defined format that can contribute to the future of science journalism and public engagement with science. Ubiquitous internet access, the advent of social media and widespread use of smartphones have all lead to the development of a new type of journalism: participatory journalism. The modern audience experience goes beyond consumption and routinely involves contributing to the news story through User Generated Content (UGC) from eyewitness videos to reader comments. We explore the current and future development of what we refer to as Participatory Science Journalism, a unique space with far reaching possibilities for meaningful public engagement with science. If we look at the story and accompanying commentary as a set, the science journalist is no longer in a position of authority to deliver a finished product (Secko et. al, 2011). In an online environment, the traditional roles of the science journalist have changed, leading to new roles and practices (Fahy and Nisbet, 2011). Our pilot study of semi-structured interviews with working science journalists (who write for the online platform of a print media company) explores Participatory Science Journalism in terms of journalists' attitudes towards and perceived value of an interactive audience as well as their thoughts on best practice for implementation of this format. We explore current experimental implementations of Participatory Science Journalism such as OpenSciLogs' crowd-funded exercise in open, participatory science journalism where the reader is invited to contribute directly to the story through an online, editable document using Google Docs.

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