The challenges for science journalism in the UK

From Progress in Physical Geography

A science journalist is a specialist whose role is, broadly, to report scientific developments to a wider audience than that reached by the academic journals. The world of journalism is changing rapidly as online media grow, squeezing resources and putting pressure on journalists to produce maximum output on minimum resources.  The effect is to threaten to shift the role of science news production away from science journalists to public relations (PR) professionals, and to reduce the essential democratic role of the journalist holding the spenders of public money to account.

This study discusses in particular two significant pieces of recent research into science journalism in the UK, namely Williams and Clifford’s report into specialist science journalism in the UK national media (2010), and the recent BBC Impartiality Review. It also describes the working practices and pressures on science journalists with the intention of providing a guide to working with science journalists. The authors discuss the pressures facing the field as print news declines and online publication ascends.

Abstract

Science journalists in the UK face a number of significant challenges, some shared by journalists in general and some specific to the reporting of science. The world of journalism is changing rapidly as online media grow, squeezing resources and putting pressure on journalists to produce maximum output on minimum resources. The effect is to threaten to shift the role of science news production away from science journalists to public relations (PR) professionals, and to reduce the essential democratic role of the journalist holding the spenders of public money to account. Evidence for this is offered from recent research into the state of science journalism in the UK, and from a BBC-commissioned report into the impartiality of new science coverage in the UK by the state broadcaster.

 

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Article details
Murcott, T., & Williams, A. (2013). The challenges for science journalism in the UK Progress in Physical Geography, 37 (2), 152-160 DOI: 10.1177/0309133312471285

     
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