The first birth of a test-tube baby took place in the United Kingdom in the year 1978. Today assisted reproduction helps infertile couples all over the world to have children . But the technological breakthrough and sensation was definitely a matter of controversy. The test-tube method dealt with central ethical issues as the relationship between humans, nature, religion and society. The controversies have diminished over time, but nevertheless new dilemmas emerge frequently in this field. Should research on embryos be allowed? What about surrogacy and egg donation? Should lesbians get IVF-treatment?, and so on. The regulation of reproduction has always been a powerful political question. Related to that, in a contemporary mass media society it is not feasible to develop and implement new medical technology without dealing with public opinion and public debate. Public opinion is mainly formed on the mass media stage, through debates and discussions. The participants seek agreement – in a situation of uncertainty with conflicting interpretations and preferences for action. This is where the mass media plays an important role through its coverage of the issue. Since there is no such thing as the neutral "truth" in the making of a news story, we can regard the journalistic field as an ongoing struggle for competing comprehensions of the truth.

Format and frames shape media content. My research question in this paper is: How is assisted reproduction framed in Norwegian newspapers? I apply the theoretical concept framing, were framing defines how a certain piece of media content is packaged so it will influence particular interpretations. This is accomplished through the use of selection, emphasis, exclusion, and elaboration. By using quantitative content analysis, I try to identify the dominating media frames articulated over time in the news stories. Can we see a tendency with frames pointing towards technology optimism -or is it the modest and negative technology view that is mostly communicated? My empirical data is news material collected from 5 different Norwegian newspapers, from two time periods: 1978-1988 and 1997-2007. The results will hopefully contribute to the discussion on media significance in the communication of medicine and biotechnology, and by this I also place myself into the Public Understanding of Science-tradition (PUST). (This is work in progress, so results are not available yet)

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Miracle or hazard?
A quantitative content analysis of Norwegian newspapers coverage of the biotechnological field assisted reproduction in Norway.

Hanne Hestvik   NTNU, Inst. for sociology and political science

The first birth of a test-tube baby took place in the United Kingdom in the year 1978. Today assisted reproduction helps infertile couples all over the world to have children . But the technological breakthrough and sensation was definitely a matter of controversy. The test-tube method dealt with central ethical issues as the relationship between humans, nature, religion and society. The controversies have diminished over time, but nevertheless new dilemmas emerge frequently in this field. Should research on embryos be allowed? What about surrogacy and egg donation? Should lesbians get IVF-treatment?, and so on. The regulation of reproduction has always been a powerful political question. Related to that, in a contemporary mass media society it is not feasible to develop and implement new medical technology without dealing with public opinion and public debate. Public opinion is mainly formed on the mass media stage, through debates and discussions. The participants seek agreement – in a situation of uncertainty with conflicting interpretations and preferences for action. This is where the mass media plays an important role through its coverage of the issue. Since there is no such thing as the neutral "truth" in the making of a news story, we can regard the journalistic field as an ongoing struggle for competing comprehensions of the truth.

Format and frames shape media content. My research question in this paper is: How is assisted reproduction framed in Norwegian newspapers? I apply the theoretical concept framing, were framing defines how a certain piece of media content is packaged so it will influence particular interpretations. This is accomplished through the use of selection, emphasis, exclusion, and elaboration. By using quantitative content analysis, I try to identify the dominating media frames articulated over time in the news stories. Can we see a tendency with frames pointing towards technology optimism -or is it the modest and negative technology view that is mostly communicated? My empirical data is news material collected from 5 different Norwegian newspapers, from two time periods: 1978-1988 and 1997-2007. The results will hopefully contribute to the discussion on media significance in the communication of medicine and biotechnology, and by this I also place myself into the Public Understanding of Science-tradition (PUST). (This is work in progress, so results are not available yet)

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

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