The news writing about scientific events specially where statistical data is involved is problematic for the journalists of the vernacular press where the languages used in the study and reporting are different. The basic aim of this study is to analyse, as to how the Indian journalists deal with statistical information and how they interpret matters of risk and probability. In simpler words, we aim at analysing the gap between the actual scientific information and the one which is reported in the local press. The study will consist of mainly two parts - selection and analysis of newspaper articles, and interviews with journalists and editors from the news section as well as science journalists. The first, qualitative part of the study explores the kind of articles in which aspects of uncertainty play a part. News coverage of scientific research is very diverse and found in all sections of news papers. Often the word research is also used referring to work in non-scientific settings. Articles and reports appearing in local press, connected to science will be explored for a span of one month. These writings will be analysed followed by a study aiming at finding the role of journalists - how do they select items, what problems do they encounter in writing about scientific research and what are their perspectives in dealing with themes like risk society, uncertainty, probability and statistics. The conclusions will be drawn after a dialogue with journalists, aimed at discovering ways and means for understandable yet truthful coverage of present-day scientific work.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Use of statistical information by Indian journalists
An analysis of articles on scientific research in vernacular press

Punit Kumar   Department of Physics, University of Lucknow

The news writing about scientific events specially where statistical data is involved is problematic for the journalists of the vernacular press where the languages used in the study and reporting are different. The basic aim of this study is to analyse, as to how the Indian journalists deal with statistical information and how they interpret matters of risk and probability. In simpler words, we aim at analysing the gap between the actual scientific information and the one which is reported in the local press. The study will consist of mainly two parts - selection and analysis of newspaper articles, and interviews with journalists and editors from the news section as well as science journalists. The first, qualitative part of the study explores the kind of articles in which aspects of uncertainty play a part. News coverage of scientific research is very diverse and found in all sections of news papers. Often the word research is also used referring to work in non-scientific settings. Articles and reports appearing in local press, connected to science will be explored for a span of one month. These writings will be analysed followed by a study aiming at finding the role of journalists - how do they select items, what problems do they encounter in writing about scientific research and what are their perspectives in dealing with themes like risk society, uncertainty, probability and statistics. The conclusions will be drawn after a dialogue with journalists, aimed at discovering ways and means for understandable yet truthful coverage of present-day scientific work.

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

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