On Sunday, the Pew Research Center released the results of a survey on the interaction between scientists, the media and the public. The survey revealed how scientists engage with the public, and how different demographics view scientific issues.
Pew released the report in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the findings were presented at the AAAS 2015 Annual Meeting on Sunday. The report included feedback from 3,784 AAAS scientists, and it is the second in a series of surveys canvassing both scientists and the American public on the interface of scientific data and public understanding.
“How Scientists Engage the Public,” reveals that most scientists – 87 percent – feel they should participate in the public policy process and in relevant debates about science and technology. Not surprisingly, almost all of them said they engaged on some level with journalists or members of the public.
The latest numbers from Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism show health dominating the news hole with a 37 percent share of total coverage. It’s the highest number since Pew started tracking these things in 2007, topping the 32 percent mark it reached in August and September of last year. The coverage was driven by broadcast talk shows, where it took up an impressive 80 percent of the total news hole.
This week’s coverage numbers (three-page pdf) from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism show health care taking up more news space than any other topic, as it has for six of the past seven weeks. During that time, only health reform advocate Sen. Ted Kennedy’s death managed to push health from the headlines.
Last week’s health coverage, like that of weeks past, has been largely fueled by cable television and radio talk shows — it filled a quarter or more of the news hole in those media while only making up 14 percent of total coverage overall.
The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has found that health care coverage filled more available news space than any other topic (PDF) for a third straight week.
Health coverage is down from the high of 25 percent it reached two weeks ago and the 19 percent it registered last week, but at 16 percent it still attracted more attention than the economy (which hit 15 percent). Health coverage numbers were again buttressed by heavy exposure on cable news (37 percent) and talk radio (33 percent), with debate in those outlets revolving around acrimonious town hall meetings.
The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which monitors 55 news outlets and about 1,300 stories across all media, found that health care coverage again predominated last week, filling 19 percent of the available news space between July 27 and August 2 (5-page pdf). Health care coverage — and more specifically, pontificating and polemicizing about reform issues — was most popular on radio (32 percent) and cable news (30 percent), and those numbers were significantly higher for talk shows. Newspapers, network TV and online outlets devoted less space to health; all three devoted between 11 and 12 percent of their available space or airtime to the subject. The political discussion over reform was, by far, the most popular health topic across all media.
Health care news coverage on the rise