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Marie Boran PCSTss2015

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Impact of online comments on role perception and emerging practices in science journalism

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Marie Boran PCSTss2015

  1. 1. The impact of online comments on role perception and emerging practices amongst science journalists Marie Boran
  2. 2. Once upon a time the role of the science journalist was EPIC  Exclusivity (sole mediators between scientist and public, no competition)  Privilege (only ones with access to scientific papers, conferences, interviews with scientists)  Informers (transmission communication model)  Clout (agenda-setters, framed science in society) Marie Boran
  3. 3. The role of “good old fashioned” science journalism  Reporter  Conduit  Watchdog  Agenda-setter  “history embedded in pedagogy and dependence on scientific expertise.” (Secko et al. 2011) Marie Boran
  4. 4. Social media is challenging journalistic norms  “The people formerly known as the audience” – (Rosen 2006)  “The venerable profession of journalism finds itself at a rare moment in history, where for the first time, its hegemony as gatekeeper of the news is threatened not just by new technology and competitors, but, potentially, by the audience it serves.” – (Willis and Bowman 2003)  Participatory journalism (also known as produsage, UGC, citizen journalism): comments are by far the most common form Marie Boran
  5. 5. Emerging roles in this new digital space (Fahy & Nisbet, 2011)  Conduit: explains, translates from experts -> non-specialist publics  Public intellectual: high degree of specialisation, distinct perspective, social implications  Agenda-setter: identifies, calls attention to important research  Watchdog: holds scientists & institutions to scrutiny  Investigative reporter: in-depth journalistic investigations, “good old fashioned” journalism  Civic educator: informs a non-specialist audience about science, its risks, methods, aims, etc.  Curator: Gather science news, adds informed opinion, commentary, evaluative  Convener: Connects scientists and publics, issue-driven  Advocate: specific worldview, on behalf of issue or idea e.g. sustainability Marie Boran
  6. 6. A profession divided on the usefulness of online comments  Traditionalists vs. ‘convergers’ who are more willing to interact with their audience (Robinson 2010)  ‘Segregationist’ vs. ‘integrationist’ (Quandt and Heinonen 2009)  Beneficial yet crappy (Bergstrom and Wadbring 2014) Marie Boran
  7. 7. The Discomfort Zone  “I try – and sometimes fail – to maintain constructive discourse in the comments … And as a result it’s different. It’s a discomfort zone … I’m not here to provide you with a soft couch and free drinks if you’re an enviro or if you are a conservative. It’s a place to challenge yourself.” - Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth blog at the New York Times. Marie Boran
  8. 8. What usually happens: Marie Boran
  9. 9. Where my research fits in:  We know how journalists feel about online comments and commenters (several interview and survey-based studies to back this up)  Helps define new roles and practices of science journalism online …to a certain extent  No quantitative data on how much and in what way science journalists interact with their audience  Data gathering: the Guardian Open Platform (API)  Assess to what extent this is constructive discourse, as Revkin advocates  Typology of science commenters  Either compare over time or between science topics Marie Boran