Can enterprise journalism shed new light on health and science issues? Portfolio

Royal Australian Chemical Institute
Science and society, 2013
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Research background This portfolio of 17 journalistic articles published in Chemistry in Australia contributes to the fields of journalism studies. Schwitzer and colleagues have pointed that the work of medical writers can impact on readers¿ health (Schwitzer, Mudur et al. 2005) and that news values such as conflict undermine effective coverage of medical issues (Schwitzer 2005). The Boykoffs noted that conflict reporting and demands for balance risk re-framing consensus as 'debate' and generate the problem of 'balance as bias' in science reporting (Boykoff and Boykoff 2004). This portfolio answers the question: Can enterprise journalism shed new light on health and science issues which are currently reported as if the jury were still out? Research contribution This research found that because 'enterprise journalism' - reporter-initiated research journalism - is independent of industry and need not satisfy traditional news values it is possible to represent current knowledge about a health or science issue such as fatty liver disease accurately. Independent journalism can thus focus on accuracy and resist demands for 'balance' or the need to satisfy 'conflict' news values which create pressure to give undue weight to food, beverage and energy industry messages. Research significance Bonfiglioli was invited by the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) to contribute these Science<->Society articles to the professional journal Chemistry in Australia from 2010. This led to an invitation to address the NSW Chemical Education Group in 2011 ('Are we swimming in a sea of toxins?' 15 March).
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