Science has, for over 300 years, been a quintessentially internationalactivity. In the late twentieth century, the exchange of scientific information through reference journals, international conferences and digital media has become even more thoroughly internationalised.
     

Yet national ‘science cultures’ differ, notably in respect of their openness to popularisation, public communication or public understanding. Such differences may affect the performance of science itself but they shape, more strongly, the integration of science into the wider culture and, with it, the reporting of science in the general media.
     

In these contexts, this paper argues that comparative methods should have a central place in the analysis of media reporting of science. Comparative study across several national media cultures recommends itself, in particular, where the common use of the reference journals helps establish comparability. The approaches of linguistic and literary studies may have much to offer students of public communication of science and technology, especially as concepts of translation are so widely - and perhaps loosely - used in this field.
     

Several examples are offered to demonstrate the application of comparative methods to study of science reporting in media in several European countries. The examples refer to: a. topic selection in science and technology by newspapers and television news; b. newspaper reporting in several countries of an individual scientific paper (textual comparison); c. television news reporting in several countries of shared information.
     

The examples point to divergences and similarities in news values, journalistic discourse and orientation to audience as much as in stances towards science and science communication.
     

With the aid of such comparisons, critical analysis of science reporting in the media of any one culture - in this case, in Ireland - can be developed which goes beyond the more usual and inevitably circular critique of media reporting of science based on norms of accuracy and adequacy.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Reporting science
From comparison to critique

Brian Trench   Dublin City University

Science has, for over 300 years, been a quintessentially internationalactivity. In the late twentieth century, the exchange of scientific information through reference journals, international conferences and digital media has become even more thoroughly internationalised.
     

Yet national ‘science cultures’ differ, notably in respect of their openness to popularisation, public communication or public understanding. Such differences may affect the performance of science itself but they shape, more strongly, the integration of science into the wider culture and, with it, the reporting of science in the general media.
     

In these contexts, this paper argues that comparative methods should have a central place in the analysis of media reporting of science. Comparative study across several national media cultures recommends itself, in particular, where the common use of the reference journals helps establish comparability. The approaches of linguistic and literary studies may have much to offer students of public communication of science and technology, especially as concepts of translation are so widely - and perhaps loosely - used in this field.
     

Several examples are offered to demonstrate the application of comparative methods to study of science reporting in media in several European countries. The examples refer to: a. topic selection in science and technology by newspapers and television news; b. newspaper reporting in several countries of an individual scientific paper (textual comparison); c. television news reporting in several countries of shared information.
     

The examples point to divergences and similarities in news values, journalistic discourse and orientation to audience as much as in stances towards science and science communication.
     

With the aid of such comparisons, critical analysis of science reporting in the media of any one culture - in this case, in Ireland - can be developed which goes beyond the more usual and inevitably circular critique of media reporting of science based on norms of accuracy and adequacy.

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

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