Science and the Media

In today’s society there are a lot of problems and many of these problems stem from a culture that has been misinformed. While there are many areas and subjects that have either been ignored or that have been reported incorrectly, the science field is one major subject that has been damaged by this lack of communication. During the 1970’s and into the 1990’s it was not unheard of for around 70% of scientist to be in direct contact with journalist. This was seen as part of the job for scientist during that time and this greatly influenced the communication between scientist and the public. During this time many more people were informed about what was happening within the scientific community which ultimately led to a more informed populace. With this, people had a better understanding of what was happening in the world and the new advances humankind was making. Recently though, scientist are in less contact with journalist and time reported in the news about science has gone down dramatically. This has led to a culture and population that values other subjects more, like for instance sports. While there is nothing wrong with sports. Having an understanding of what is happening within the field of science can be much more beneficial is decisions made in politics and within our culture as a whole. For instance, global warming is an increasing problem for our world but few people actually know the inner workings and causes of global warming. Simple ideas may be known but solutions and the science behind global warming are largely ignored or not known. In recent years there has also been a gap in communication between scientist and journalist, with scientists standing on one side and journalists on the other. While scientist and journalist get along just fine, the form of communication each uses is drastically different. Scientist obviously use more scientific terms that may not be known by everyone and journalist have a more general form of communication that can be understood by most people. This gap has led to many miss communications between scientist and the public which in turn widens the gap between scientist and the general public. So now there is less reported in the news about science and the communication between scientist and people has broken down leading to a major uninformed populace about modern science. Hopefully things can change soon.

Frequency of media contact within the science field.

Fig. 2.

Edwin Doll

sources: http://www.pnas.org/content/110/Supplement_3/14102.full

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2 thoughts on “Science and the Media

  1. I wonder if the change in scientists being in less relation with journalists directly related to the decreased interest in science from the public. It seems that there were other cultural changes that affected this difference from the past to the present.
    I think looking toward the future and how to get science back into the culture of the people and make them realize its importance is key. Like you mentioned, journalism linking up with science again may be the way to achieve this end. Journalists, as well as marketing people, have a knack for knowing what the public wants and how to make them want it. Maybe with communicating with different fields, the end goal could be achieved faster and easier than doing it in isolation. Also, maybe with different majors we can start to integrate different ideas to make students more multidisciplinary in skills. Maybe that is where America needs to go in the future to be able to be competitive with more advanced countries in relation to education.

    Annelise Wilimitis

    Like

  2. I wonder what the shift was? why are 70% of scientists not in contact with journalists any more? I mean a scientist’s job is to publish their work, wouldn’t it make sense that they would want it to be published to as many people as possible? Why is there a disconnect between journalist and scientist now a days?

    Tom Walters

    Like

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