Context . Although several attempts to estimate the quality of news have been made, the concept remains ill-defined. To my knowledge, quality criteria for individual pieces of science coverage are still lacking. Here, a few criteria are proposed as an approximation to quality of contents in science journalism.
 

Purpose . To examine the science contents of the coverage of the SARS epidemic in daily newspapers.
 

Methodology . Six daily newspapers (El Universal, La Jornada and Reforma, from México; Le Monde, from France, El País, from Spain, and The New York Times, from the U.S.A.) were scanned for their coverage of the onset of the SARS epidemic. Points of information contributing to decision-making processes were recorded, as were the sources (or lack thereof) and argument forming implications.
 

Results . The quality criteria proposed herein allow the construction of sets of likely decisions by the readers regarding SARS, and of the necessary information points for each decision. On average, only about half of the time was an identifiable source properly quoted. Connections between information points to reproduce arguments were virtually absent in the Mexican coverage.
 

Conclusion . While they share many of the information points covered by newspapers in Europe and the USA, Mexican dailies limited their coverage to the very mention of this points, often without quoting authorised sources and generally failing to report the reasoning behind the information.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Quality criteria for science journalism
Sars as a case study to examine scientific contents

Javier Crúz Mena   Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Context . Although several attempts to estimate the quality of news have been made, the concept remains ill-defined. To my knowledge, quality criteria for individual pieces of science coverage are still lacking. Here, a few criteria are proposed as an approximation to quality of contents in science journalism.
 

Purpose . To examine the science contents of the coverage of the SARS epidemic in daily newspapers.
 

Methodology . Six daily newspapers (El Universal, La Jornada and Reforma, from México; Le Monde, from France, El País, from Spain, and The New York Times, from the U.S.A.) were scanned for their coverage of the onset of the SARS epidemic. Points of information contributing to decision-making processes were recorded, as were the sources (or lack thereof) and argument forming implications.
 

Results . The quality criteria proposed herein allow the construction of sets of likely decisions by the readers regarding SARS, and of the necessary information points for each decision. On average, only about half of the time was an identifiable source properly quoted. Connections between information points to reproduce arguments were virtually absent in the Mexican coverage.
 

Conclusion . While they share many of the information points covered by newspapers in Europe and the USA, Mexican dailies limited their coverage to the very mention of this points, often without quoting authorised sources and generally failing to report the reasoning behind the information.

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