Science, journalism and society : overcoming the "red shift" in the 21st century

McIlwaine, Stephen John (2005). Science, journalism and society : overcoming the "red shift" in the 21st century PhD Thesis, School of Journalism and Communication, The University of Queensland.

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Author McIlwaine, Stephen John
Thesis Title Science, journalism and society : overcoming the "red shift" in the 21st century
School, Centre or Institute School of Journalism and Communication
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2005
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Chris Lawe Davies
John Henningham
Total pages 352
Language eng
Subjects 160808 Sociology and Social Studies of Science and Technology
2001 Communication and Media Studies
200101 Communication Studies
200104 Media Studies
Formatted abstract

This study examines the relationships between science and journalism, science and society and journalism and society in an attempt to detect the potential for changes. The study's principal theme is that the rate of scientific and technological development is such that it outstrips, to a degree not previously experienced, the abilities of societies to comprehend and to discuss. As such, the rate of change threatens to dislocate and even destroy fundamental social norms and, in this way, seriously undermine democratic institutions. The study argues that it always was the task of journalism to promote and develop public discourse on scientific development and that this is now especially the case as science, industry and governments become ever more secretive about science and ever more dismissive of the rights of the publics to know. However, this dissertation argues, journalism has failed in the past to accept this responsibility. Instead, journalism has accepted and perpetuated failed and discredited modes of communication in its coverage of science and technology, modes that have been accepted by both science and journalism as the appropriate way of informing the public. 


The dissertation concludes that, contrary to expectation, journalism students show little of the ignorance or bias that would make them unsuitable as agents of "democratising" science. Indeed, students rank well with science students in their understanding and acceptance of science as a component of society. The conclusion from this is that such emerging journalists are well equipped to help renegotiate the relationships between science and lay publics, and that this task may with some confidence be expected to succeed, although against strong resistance from established interests.

Keyword Science -- Social aspects
Journalism -- Social aspects

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (RHD) - UQ staff and students only
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Created: Thu, 03 Jan 2013, 08:09:38 EST by Mr Lachlan Wong on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service