Some Context to the Scientist-Journalist Debate
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
I'm obviously a bit late in commenting on the scientist-journalist debate that went on through last week, so I'm not going to weigh in at this point. (Round up of posts. The entry that started it all.)
But for the motivated reader, below the fold are listed several studies and book chapters that I assign in my course on Science, Media, and the Public or that I recommend to graduate students doing research on the topic. All of the sources are available at your university library and provide useful context for understanding the interactions between scientists and journalists.
Moreover, at this year's AAAS conference, several colleagues participated in a panel devoted to cross-national research on the topic. I recommend contacting the panelists about copies of any forthcoming studies from this ongoing work.
Dearing, J. (1995). Newspaper coverage of maverick science: Creating controversy through balancing. Public Understanding of Science, 4, 341-361.
Dunwoody, S. (1980). The Science Writing Inner Club: A Communication Link Between Science and the Lay Public. Science, Technology, and Human Values, 30, 14-22.
Friedman, S., Dunwoody, S. & Rogers, C. (1986). Scientists and journalists: Reporting science as news. Washington, D.C.: Washington, D.C.
Hartz, J., and Chappell, R. (1997). Worlds apart: How the distance between science and journalism threatens America's future. Nashville, TN: First Amendment Center.
Hilgartner, S. (1990). The dominant view of popularization: Conceptual problems, political uses. Social Studies of Science, 20, 519-539.
Lewenstein, B.V. (1995/2002). Science and the media. In S. Jasanoff (Ed.), The handbook of science and technology studies (pp. 343-360). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Nelkin, D. (1995). Selling science: How the press covers science and technology. New York: W.H. Freeman.
Nisbet, M.C. & Huge, M (2006). Attention cycles and frames in the plant biotechnology debate: Managing power and participation through the press/policy connection. Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 11, 2, 3-40.
Peters, H.P. (1995). The interaction of journalists and scientific experts: Co-operation and conflict between two professional cultures. Media, Society, & Culture, 17, 31-48.
Zehr, Stocking, & Dunwoody (1999). Communicating Uncertainty: Media Coverage of New and Controversial Science. Mahweh, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum. (See chapters 1-3).
This research specific to scientist-journalist interactions draws heavily on the work examining the relationships between reporters and sources generally. For overviews, I recommend:
Donsbach, W. (2004). Psychology of news decisions: Factors behind journalists' professional behavior. Journalism, 5, 131-157.
Nisbet, M.C. (in press). Agenda-building. In W. Donsbach (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Communication. New York: Blackwell. (Contact me for a copy.)
Shoemaker, P.J. & Reese, S.D. (1996). Mediating the message: Theories of influence on mass media content. White Plains, NY: Longman Publishers.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?
- During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
- The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
- Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.
- Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
- In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
- Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
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