Background: As shown from several studies done at an international level television is the most trusted and referenced source used by the public when looking for information about science, technology and its social consequences.

Objective: The main objective of the study was to analyze the presence of science contenton four main Catalan television channels (TV3, K3‐33, 8TV, BarcelonaTV). Two secondary objectives were also obtained. The first one was to compare the presence of three specific topics ‐ hard science and technology, medical science, environment and nature ‐ in the general programming and the newscasts. The second one was to find evidence of the events, activities, and of an increased coverage of science topics in the general programming and the newscasts as an effect of the Year of Science, officially declared by the city of Barcelona for the year 2007.

Methodology: Quantitative and qualitative studies were conducted on the general programming and newscasts of each channel during a period of three months (April, May and June) in the years 2006 and 2007. A sample of more than 500 tape‐recorded hours has also been analyzed. The contents of a general tv magazine programme (Als Matins) broadcasted every morning from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. by TV3 were also analyzed through a sample of 25 episodes. In‐depth interviews were conducted with some of the key figures involved: journalists, presenters and news directors on one side and heads of press offices and organizers of the Year of Science on the other.

Results: The study of the general programming has shown that most of the channels dedicate an avarage of 3,5 % of total air time to science topics. From a comparison of the data collected in 2006 and 2007 on general programming it has emerged that the number of entries in 2007 has been 10% inferior to that of 2006. An opposite tendency has been observed in the newscasts coverage of science and technology issues which in all channels has increased between 50% and 90% in 2007 compared to 2006. A comparison of the way environment and health issues ‐ the two main topics that appear both in general programming and science news ‐ were treated has also been developed. While coverage of environment issues such as climate change, contamination and global warming shows a tendency to refer mainly to future threats, health issues are generally introduced by comments on the current reality (medicaments and treatments rather than future developments brougth by investigation).

Conclusions: We have observed that, in general, the presence of science topics in television programming was scarce. The research has shown that there has been little correspondance between the several activities organized in Catalunya for the Year of Science and the coverage of the same events by television. On the other side, the analysis of the tv magazine programme Als Matins has shown interesting datas on the high presence of science topics in a generalistic tv programme.

">
 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Science on TV
Environment as speculation and health as ordinary news

Marzia Mazzonetto   Science Communication Observatory, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Gemma Revuelta de la Poza   Science Communication Observatory, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Chiara D'Anna   Science Communication Observatory, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Background: As shown from several studies done at an international level television is the most trusted and referenced source used by the public when looking for information about science, technology and its social consequences.

Objective: The main objective of the study was to analyze the presence of science contenton four main Catalan television channels (TV3, K3‐33, 8TV, BarcelonaTV). Two secondary objectives were also obtained. The first one was to compare the presence of three specific topics ‐ hard science and technology, medical science, environment and nature ‐ in the general programming and the newscasts. The second one was to find evidence of the events, activities, and of an increased coverage of science topics in the general programming and the newscasts as an effect of the Year of Science, officially declared by the city of Barcelona for the year 2007.

Methodology: Quantitative and qualitative studies were conducted on the general programming and newscasts of each channel during a period of three months (April, May and June) in the years 2006 and 2007. A sample of more than 500 tape‐recorded hours has also been analyzed. The contents of a general tv magazine programme (Als Matins) broadcasted every morning from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. by TV3 were also analyzed through a sample of 25 episodes. In‐depth interviews were conducted with some of the key figures involved: journalists, presenters and news directors on one side and heads of press offices and organizers of the Year of Science on the other.

Results: The study of the general programming has shown that most of the channels dedicate an avarage of 3,5 % of total air time to science topics. From a comparison of the data collected in 2006 and 2007 on general programming it has emerged that the number of entries in 2007 has been 10% inferior to that of 2006. An opposite tendency has been observed in the newscasts coverage of science and technology issues which in all channels has increased between 50% and 90% in 2007 compared to 2006. A comparison of the way environment and health issues ‐ the two main topics that appear both in general programming and science news ‐ were treated has also been developed. While coverage of environment issues such as climate change, contamination and global warming shows a tendency to refer mainly to future threats, health issues are generally introduced by comments on the current reality (medicaments and treatments rather than future developments brougth by investigation).

Conclusions: We have observed that, in general, the presence of science topics in television programming was scarce. The research has shown that there has been little correspondance between the several activities organized in Catalunya for the Year of Science and the coverage of the same events by television. On the other side, the analysis of the tv magazine programme Als Matins has shown interesting datas on the high presence of science topics in a generalistic tv programme.

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

BACK TO TOP