If you are a science communicator and you follow my blog or my Twitter handle @FromTheLabBench, you may have taken the Science Research Translation into News survey that I distributed this summer. The survey asked science communicators to evaluate a press release about an environmental research finding according to conventional news values. If you took this survey, and you are one of the participants interested in hearing about the results of the survey, you'll be happy to know that I'm presenting my findings at the Southern Political Science Association conference in January 2014, in New Orleans! My panel, titled Media Influence on Politics and Policymaking, will take place at 3pm C.S.T. on January 11th, 2014. You can learn more about the conference time and location here.
Here is an abstract for my conference presentation: Quality Matters: Science Translation from Press Release to News.
Previous research in science news and communication has shown that press releases may affect not only amount of subsequent news coverage, but also quality of that coverage. Quality of news coverage in turn impacts public understanding of important scientific issues that have public policy impacts, such as climate change. But in order to better understand how press release quality can affect amount and quality of science news coverage, this online experiment investigates how newsworthy professional journalists perceive a mock press release on an environmental issue, manipulated for 'quality' based on contextual information and important study limitations. Do journalists perceive a press release that incorporates disconfirming remarks from an outside expert as more newsworthy than one that incorporates confirming evidence, despite the important role of scientific consensus in climate change policy? Does this depend on the journalist's knowledge of science? This study seeks to answer these questions and others that seem to have been left behind in discussions of translation of research to news.
Hope to see you in New Orleans in January!