Are Journalism Students Equipped to Write About Science?

McIlwaine, Stephen and Nguyen, An (2005) Are Journalism Students Equipped to Write About Science?. Australian Studies in Journalism, 14 : 41-60.

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Author McIlwaine, Stephen
Nguyen, An
Title Are Journalism Students Equipped to Write About Science?
Journal name Australian Studies in Journalism   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1038-6130
Publication date 2005-01-01
Volume 14
Start page 41
End page 60
Total pages 20
Editor R. Kirkpatrick
Place of publication St Lucia, Queensland
Publisher Univ of Queensland, School of Journalism & Communication
Collection year 2005
Language eng
Subject 400101 Journalism
C1
400104 Communication and Media Studies
Abstract Journalists and/or their editors appear to avoid science topics and journalists have the reputation of being largely unequipped to handle medical science, environmental science, or any science, in ways that do not distort, misrepresent or misunderstand the science and that do not promote a continuing feud with scientists. Nurse & Tooze (2000) contend that the result of this has been a generally low quality of debate about science issues and increased public anxiety. Low levels of understanding are the outcome of the public, the media, politicians and other opinion-formers having little idea of how science is done and how scientific knowledge is advanced, they argue. Although a convenient solution to this problem is seen in the training of specialist science journalists, such an apparent solution is impractical and, indeed, probably unsuitable. A better solution would seem to be to prepare all journalism trainees for the inevitable encounters with science and technology and especially the issues surrounding ever more contentious developments. This paper sets out to address the central question of whether generalist journalists can be better equipped to deal successfully with science writing and reporting and whether this can be achieved in their normal tertiary education in journalism. It does this in two ways: First, it looks at students' survey responses to a spectrum of questions about science, science in the news and their knowledge of basic scientific concepts to explore the potential of journalism students to cover science matters. Then it examines the perceived quality of journalism students' writing in a survey of source scientists. The conclusion drawn from this is that most journalism students are quite capable performing the task well.
Keyword science journalism
journalism students
communication
Q-Index Code C1

 
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Created: Mon, 31 Jul 2006, 10:00:00 EST by A. D. Nguyen on behalf of School of Journalism and Communication