Lesson 2: ObjectiveIn Lesson 2 we will discuss instances when the goals of political figures and the scientific community could have swayed public interest and media coverage of science news. Inthis lesson, students will examine how the interactions between science, politics and economics influence media and social commentary of important science news.
Should science journalists exist? Why don’t scientists summarize their findings and reports into comprehensive, yet simple scientific articles? What is the need for the science journalist? Does Science Need More Compelling Stories…?
Why we need science journalists A. People need a strong story to connect with for an article to have meaning. This often means introducing a compelling human story that captures the attention of the reader and offers some level of comparison for people who have had similar experiences with whatever particular science topic is being discussed. B. People can understand numbers, but they can’t empathize with them. Scientists may have the greater understanding of scientific data, but they may not be able to articulate that information to a general audience as effectively as a trained journalist. C. Science journalists write about a range of scientific topics and can therefore tie in additional knowledge and explain the political and social contexts of certain scientific announcements
Modern Coverage of ClimateChange Case Study: Climate Change and the Green Movement Political and economic entities have varying opinions of what climate change is and what they need to do to mitigate pollution caused by greenhouse gas emissions The media must sometimes rely on these biased sources for information regarding environmental policy and industry, resulting in unbalanced or scant coverage of definitive global warming data Read the following: Environmental Coverage Driven by Politics
Class Video: Powered by Coal – 60 Minutes (Watch from 15:30-21:30) How do the personal business interests of the subjects in this video influence the public perception of certain news topics? Form groups of 4-6 people and discuss the different entities of influence featured in the video. Consider how news coverage differed for each different industry or group? Do you think the media is biased in its coverage of climate change? How do pieces like this influence public consumption of particular products?
Scientific Confirmation and Credibility Skeptics own study finds climate change real – The Washington Post, Oct. 30 Can we trust these results? They seem credible enough and the study appears sound, but think about the role of the journalist in this article. The story of the scientist is supported by the journalist’s telling of his findings. Without the research, background information, and interviews provided by the journalist, these findings may be passed over, but the emphasis placed on this particular case by the media substantiates the scientific finding in the eyes of the public.
Climate Change and the Role of the Public The media has struggled to continue coverage of climate change science because of a lack of concrete data to support any definite conclusionsHave scientists been aggressive enough in presenting climate change data? Or did the press fail to report the important aspects of climate change news? Think about these questions as you read the article below:
Public Influence: Social Media and ClimateChange When media coverage of climate change became stagnant, the public continued discussion of climate change via social media. But how can the public assess the accuracy of social media posts about climate change, when both the media and scientific community cannot provide concrete answers? Read the following blog post: Social Media Driving Corporate Environmental Sustainability Find a recent scientific news topic that you find interesting. Login toyour Facebook or Twitter account and update your status. Use socialmedia to spread the word about your news story and start aconversation with your peers.
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