(Un-)Professional discourse? Journalists' and scientists' stories about science in the media

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journalism, 2001, 2 (3), pp. 279 - 298
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The long-standing tension and conflicts between journalists and scientists surrounding the media reporting of science are explored in this article. Preliminary data were collected using video-taped focus groups with scientists and science journalists. Based on the analysis of this data, nine in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with three scientists, three science journalists and three news journalists. These data have been analysed thematically. Accurate, accessible and informative reporting is a major concern of all participants and not only scientists, although they are interpreted differently. Competing time frames and organizational and technological demands combine with incomplete understanding of power relations to exacerbate tensions. Journalists are inclined to expect scientists to change their attitudes. Scientists have the most to gain by change. The continuing conflicts and tensions are located in historically constructed occupational identities, particularly that of the scientist as 'modest witness'. The article concludes with some suggestions to improve relations between science and journalism. Copyright © 2001 SAGE Publications.
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