Scientists ”enjoying media interaction”

July 11th, 2008 - 4:30 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, July 11 (AN): Once reluctant to share their work with the media, scientists are now enjoying all the attention they”re getting, seeing it as a reward for their labour.
Contrary to the anecdotal horror stories, the interaction between scientists and journalists is now more frequent and smoother.
Earlier scientists used to fear that the media would distort their research, however, a survey involving more than 1,300 researchers in five countries France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States showed that scientists felt their work was portrayed accurately, explained well, and the news reports were generally complete and unbiased.
The journalists were perceived as responsible and informed in their reporting.
“Scientists actually see rewards in this process, not just pitfalls,” said Sharon Dunwoody, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of journalism and a co-author of the new report.
The analysis led by Hans Peter Peters of the Forschungszentrum Julich, Germany, sampled researchers in two broad and well-covered scientific fields, epidemiology and stem cell research.
The results of the survey suggest that scientists” perspectives of the news media have evolved during the past 15 years, said Dominique Brossard, a UW-Madison professor of journalism who is also a co-author of the report.
“Clearly, the survey shows that scientists see interactions with journalists as necessary,” said Brossard.
“We don”t have to convince the scientists anymore. We”re beyond that,” he added.
Dunwoody believes that ”prospect of rewards” is what compelling the change in scientists” behaviour.
Moreover, scientists are now seeing a benefit of greater public understanding of the scientific enterprise through news coverage of research.
The survey including 358 U.S. scientists indicated few differences in scientists” perceptions of interacting with journalists from country to country, possibly because the cultural norms of science are universal.
The scientists in the survey who interacted most with journalists tended to be more senior, more productive researchers, suggesting that journalists do a better job than scientists think of finding the best people to talk to. “Journalists are attending to the highly productive scientists. That’’s good news and gives less credibility to the notion that journalists pay too much attention to outliers,” said Dunwoody.
The survey also suggests scientists are becoming more knowledgeable about how journalists work and are thus more skilled at working with reporters.
“Scientists in this survey are quite savvy in their interactions,” he added.
The report is published this week in the journal Science. (ANI)

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