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An 80% decrease in the number of scientific news in the daily newspapers over the course of a decade

At a science in the media conference where the data was revealed, the president of the Academy of Sciences said she calls for strengthening the dialogue between the media and science

The president of the Academy of Sciences, Prof. Ruth Arnon, visits the Madatech museum pavilion as part of the third science in communication conference, June 16, 2011
The president of the Academy of Sciences, Prof. Ruth Arnon, visits the Madatech museum pavilion as part of the third science in communication conference, June 16, 2011

The president of the Israeli National Academy of Sciences, Ruth Arnon, called on the representatives of the Israeli media and scientists this weekend to strengthen the dialogue and cooperation between them and publish more information to the public in a reliable and professional manner.

 

The journalist Itai Nebo from "Voice of Israel" presented a quantitative analysis at the conference for communication and science indicating a significant decrease in the scope of coverage of scientific issues in the secular written press in Israel. The analysis shows that in four weeks in 2010, an average of 0.76 science news items per day were published in Haaretz, Maariv and Yediot Ahronoth newspapers, compared to 3.72 news items per day in a similar study conducted by Hanan Golan in these newspapers 13 years ago. In total, the data shows a drop of about 80% in the scope of science coverage in the three newspapers. It is possible that this trend coincides with the sharp decline in the scope of scientific coverage of the general press in the USA during the last two decades. The study also shows that coverage of science also exists in the ultra-orthodox press. The newspaper "Yad Na'am" published six scientific news items in its news pages during the research period, only one less than "Yediot Aharonot". Of the six science news items that reached the front page of the newspaper - four were in the newspapers "HaModi" and "Yeded Na'am" and only two were in secular newspapers ("Haaretz" and "Maariv").

The coverage topics are also interesting. Out of 54 news items in the news pages, 14 dealt with missiles and satellites, 11 news items dealt with medical research, 7 news items in space exploration, 7 in archaeology, and 4 in other fields of physics, three in science policy and appointments and another 8 news items in more general topics.

The third gathering for science communication in Israel took place this weekend at the Jerusalem Academy of Sciences with the participation of 200 science and communication researchers, journalists, editors, speakers of academic institutions, educators and more. The conference examined the place of science in the public discourse in Israel with the aim of upgrading it. The series of conferences is initiated and organized by Dr. Ayelet Baram-Zabari from the Department of Science Teaching at the Technion and Avital Bar, speaker and director of public relations at the Israel National Academy of Sciences. The gathering concluded with a meeting with Academy member, Nobel laureate Prof. Aharon Chachanover and his author Meir and editor of DeMarker, Guy Rolnick.

The president of the academy, Ruth Arnon, emphasized that the acceleration gained by the field of science communication originates from the importance that the academic system attaches to the relationship with the public. Arnon emphasizes that the media is the public's main source of information for news about science and technology and that the media has a decisive influence on shaping the image of science, women scientists and men and women scientists in society. Public opinion and its knowledge about science influence decision-making at the personal and national level.

Representation of science in the Israeli media - preliminary quantification
Itai Nebo, "The Voice of Israel"

The conference for science communication deals a lot with various topics related to the representation of science and scientists in the media, but so far no reliable and up-to-date research picture of the scope of scientific coverage, its nature and characteristics has been received. This study attempts to provide a first overview of the scope of exposure of the scientific world in the mass media in Israel, as well as offer a general analysis of the coverage topics. The initial review focuses on the written press.

Some studies (eg Riffe et al, 1993) found that in a press study a sample of 12 editions is sufficient to obtain a reliable statistical picture. Since there are many national holidays and events in Israel that are also reflected in the perception of a portion of the news reports, I decided to increase the sample to four weeks (24 editions of daily newspapers) in order to reduce the risk of such biases (for example: during the sampling period, Holocaust Remembrance Day falls. A significant part of my reports The news on this day dealt with the issue and pushed the feet of current news matters). For the purpose of the analysis, four weeks1 were randomly selected in 2010. The sources of information were six daily newspapers in Hebrew - "Yediot Ahronoth", "Maariv", "Haaretz", "Mokor Rishon HaTzofe", "HaModi" and "Yeded Na'eman" - all the news and articles were reviewed Scientific matters published in them in these four weeks.

One of the problems in science communication studies is the lack of uniformity in the definition of scientific knowledge. In a thesis on science coverage in the Israeli press (Golan, 1998), Hanan Golan used the following definition:
Science is everything related to research institutions (private or public), inventions and discoveries, reports on studies or surveys (unless commissioned by the newspaper itself or by a politically identified party), academia and recognized scientific disciplines.
This definition served as a basis for the definition that guided me in the research work, but I tried to expand it as much as possible, and at the same time to define clearer boundaries for it, and to use the following guidelines in the news sample:
• A report on research or a discovery published in a scientific journal, or presented at a scientific conference
• Reporting on a new scientific project or on developments in an existing project (particle accelerator, space flight)
• Reporting on inventions or discoveries that have not yet been approved by the scientific community
• Reporting on awards, grants or appointments of scientists, when the context is their scientific work
• Reporting on budgets or policy matters related to scientific research
• Scientific explanations of matters in the news
• Reports on subjects tangential to pure research (health, environment, engineering), provided that a central component of the report deals with the scientific/research context

For example, I do not consider the survey in itself a scientific work, unless it is made a structured research framework, then it will probably be included in the other categories. Also, a vague wording such as "everything related to academia", can include, for example, an investigation of corruption in an academic institution, elections for faculty organizations and other information that does not have a direct bearing on science or research. On the other hand, this definition makes it possible to include in the research appointments of owners related to science (two of the news found reported on the appointment of Prof. Ruth Arnon to the presidency of the National Academy of Sciences), budgets for research, policy issues related to science (for example, laws concerning fetal stem cell experiments or governmental decisions the American concerning the goals of the space program) and also news items that appear alongside current affairs reports, and explain the scientific side of a certain phenomenon (volcanic eruption, tsunami, smoking addiction), even if they do not report on research or discoveries.
Findings
Scope of coverage: a total of 54 science news items were published in the six newspapers over the four weeks, and another 17 news items and articles in the daily and weekly supplements. News published in regular sections in the fields of health, technology and computers that appear in most newspapers have not been counted. The distribution of news on the news pages of the six newspapers appears in the following table:
Newspaper no. average size news*

 

Newspaper tax. knowledge average size*
knowledge 7 1.9
Maariv 13 2.5
the land 21 3.4
first source 3

3

The informant 4 3.25
Loyal stake 6 2.5

News size rating
1- Knowledge of a few dozen words

5- Information of a whole page

These data indicate a sharp decrease in the scope of scientific coverage in the three major newspapers since 1997. In his research at the time, Hanan Golan found an average of 3.72 scientific items per day in the newspapers "Haaretz", "Yediot Ahronoth" and "Maariv". In our review, 72 daily editions were examined (24 from each newspaper), and 41 science headlines were found in the news pages and another 14 headlines in the daily and weekly supplements, meaning an average of 0.76 scientific items per day. Although Golan's definition allowed him to include information that might not have entered this study, such as surveys, it is hard to believe that small differences in the definition or sampling methods are enough to explain an approximately 80% decrease in the scope of scientific coverage of three of the largest newspapers in Israel. It is possible that this trend coincides with the sharp decrease in the scope of scientific coverage of the general press in the USA during the last two decades (Brumfiel, 2009).

Topics of coverage: Of the science news published in the news pages, 14 dealt with missiles and satellites, 11 news dealt with medical research, seven news in space exploration, seven in archaeology, four in other fields of physics (except space research), three in science policy and appointments and eight news in other subjects or in general fields more (for example - the review of the studies expected to be at the forefront of science next year).
The prominence of the scientific news: out of the 54 science news in the news pages, only six appeared on the front page of the newspapers. Three of them appeared in the main headline of "The Informer", which reported three days in a row about the launch of the "Ofek 9" satellite and the related developments (June 23-25.6.10, 39). In the secular newspapers, only two out of 54 news during the research period were mentioned on the front page of the newspaper. With this it should be noted that ten of the XNUMX news items appeared on the back cover of the news pages (eight of them in "Haaretz" and two in "Maariv").
Distribution during the week: in the division of the news according to the day of publication, it becomes clear that 12 news were published on Sundays, 11 on Thursdays, ten on Fridays, nine on Wednesdays, eight on Tuesdays and only four on Mondays. The reason for the abundance of science news on Sundays and towards the end of the week (I assume that Friday would have been even more saturated with science news if most newspapers had not printed a relatively small number of news pages compared to weekdays) is apparently the lack of news material from the "traditional" news providers who are not working Usually on weekends - government offices, Knesset, courts and other authorities. This assumption can be strengthened if later on in the research, when I also examine radio and television broadcasts, it will be found that the proportion of science news has indeed increased in the weekend editions itself. If this assumption is correct, it is possible that if the bodies that promote science coverage distribute materials on Sunday night or with an embargo for Sunday, this will help them improve the chances of introducing scientific information into the news pages of newspapers.

Summary
A preliminary study indicates a real decrease in the scope of coverage of scientific issues in the secular written press in Israel, and brings up initial data on the scope of coverage in the religious press. In the continuation of the research, I hope to examine the scope of coverage in other media - television, radio, internet. It is hoped that further studies will examine not only the scope of science coverage in the Israeli media, but also its quality, sources and the topics it focuses on, in order to give a more complete picture of what is happening in the field.

Digits:
Golan, H. 1998. Enlightenment ignorance. Certified thesis in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Tel Aviv University.
Brumfiel, G. 2009. Science journalism: Supplanting the old media? Nature 458, 274-277
Riffe, D., C. Aust, and S. Lacy. 1993. The effectiveness of random, consecutive day and constructed week sampling in newspaper content analysis. Journalism Quarterly 70:133-39.

Comments:
1. The weeks sampled: 21-27.3, 11-17.4, 20-26.6, 26.12-1.1.11.

29 תגובות

  1. You have to work to promote, everyone will contribute their part and in the end there will be a positive shift

  2. jelly
    I hope you keep writing articles here, I definitely enjoy reading them.
    And regarding all those 'experts' who slander your name - you don't need to pay attention to all their peeps, with you (unlike them)
    It can be seen that you have learned a thing or two.
    After all, in practice you can see that you have learned and are contributing from your knowledge.
    Compared to those who slander your name - maybe they learned, but they probably learned wrong things.

  3. Gali, I didn't know you had a bad name and then you came and started saying a bad name and a bad name and you gave a link so we could go see what it was about
    And there I saw that my father actually protected you (response 55)

  4. Gali - don't do this to us. Too bad. Your articles were very good. As explained to you, all the writers here do it voluntarily. We expect you to continue. So if you come up with interesting ideas and feel like it - then write and we will be happy to read. Things related to Einstein are always interesting to read.

  5. Thanks Ramy. I put the video in the background - interesting. So many creationists and many who claim that both should be taught - no wonder the Americans are stupid. Today all the scientists in American universities are Chinese.

  6. Avi, regarding Gali's comments.
    Perhaps you would allow articles to be published under a 'pen name' as some authors do.
    As long as you know who it is and you have control over the material that comes up on the screen, it can contribute
    That shy scientists or those who are afraid of the public's reactions will be able to publish without fear.

  7. Even if I answer the commenters, the slanders still remain and it gives me a bad name. Because it's one against one: I'm against them and the readers don't know who to believe.
    And the fact that it gives me a bad name also gives you a bad name.
    Because the site loses its credibility. One of the building blocks of science is reliability.
    And if, for example, they write in the comments that I don't deserve to be a reporter or that I don't have the appropriate training, then the readers think that maybe the site has no credibility. Then all kinds of hostile elements will use it to my detriment, but also to your detriment.
    You can't take down all the slanderous and defamatory comments posted to articles on your site because it's like finding a needle in a haystack. But the people who sued you now may well use it against you now, claiming that your site is unreliable, especially in responses to my articles, but also to other articles.
    Therefore, you must publish an article or statement of opinion that the responsibility for the responses of the commenters is the commenters' only and their responsibility and some additional legal wording (!) that will give your website scientific credibility.

  8. Sorry about that, I thought the things were within the framework of freedom of speech and that you would answer them. Not everything appears on the face of it as defamation. Too bad you stopped writing. Regarding the issue of Facebook, we raised the issue. Can't remember why but he fell then.

  9. jelly,

    Have you thought why you keep attracting fire? Maybe it's something about you and not just about the other commenters (whom I strongly condemn the whole behavior of slandering, publishing resumes, etc.)? Maybe because you often tend to speak in unfounded generalizations? Maybe because you usually complain like "I deserve it" about the fact that it's hard to find a job in Israel, it's hard to publish popular science? Pay attention to response 15, it is precisely for those who work in additional jobs that it is more difficult to publish more articles and despite this they do it with love and really kudos to them. I don't know how much money, if at all, Moshe Nachmani for example receives from the scientist, but if not, look at what output and what dedication.
    Did someone force you to write popular science? If you love, continue and be happy and leverage it for profit whether by writing books or any other way and if you suffer then why do you continue?

  10. You didn't answer me to what I wrote above, about the fact that I went through your defamation campaign website by the commenters.
    This is the main reason I stopped writing here on the science website. I wrote that scientific writing is not rewarding and that is exactly what I meant.
    But mostly the fact that I was slandered here damaged the credibility of the knowledge site. Because if the author of an article is discredited, then readers think that maybe what he writes is not reliable. And the commenters really thought so and they said so (see Ehud's comments for example). And then if what the writers here write is considered unreliable, then you can also easily sue them. And so your job is to protect the writers and their articles and prevent at all costs (!) the defamation of writers, for example by allowing only comments from commenters from Facebook - and that way these won't be anonymous commenters.
    Otherwise every fifty-two you will have a claim for something else.

  11. Gali You will be surprised but we all do our work voluntarily. Therefore, everyone has to work somewhere else to support themselves. Ran Levy does other things such as writing books, as far as I know he does not earn from the podcasts. I also work for other parties as a freelancer, Moshe Nachmani writes many articles as a volunteer and earns his living at the Ministry of Justice, regarding the late Prof. Hersgur, his writing encouraged rational thinking and dissuaded superstitions, so he can be associated with the scientific stream.
    post Scriptum. Unfortunately I didn't get to ask him to write an article for the site.

  12. The comments were blocked because of suspicious words that are not related to you, but the comment was intended for me, so I answered you in it and did not reveal

  13. It is not acceptable to edit commenters' comments, but it is acceptable to respond to comments.
    What's more, many comments I sent here were blocked and not published!
    In addition, when I published science articles here, I went through a terrible slander campaign by the commenters who published my full and falsified life stories here (!!) and severely damaged my image:
    https://www.hayadan.org.il/refuting-einstein-in-4-easy-steps-physicists-measure-brownian-motion-2405109/
    And discuss the slime in my academic life. And my father, you did not prevent this discussion and more than that you allowed it and left it online for a whole year! Well then what are you wondering?? Then I went through another smear campaign like this from commenters in other articles I posted here. And there are masses of readers who read it. And if you don't prevent such things then later it hits like a boomerang the credibility of your site!

  14. sorry for the late response.
    Avi Blizovsky is a journalist.
    Ran Levy is also a journalist and media person. Their job (!) is to write articles and make podcasts and all.
    Roi Cezana works (!) for Aharon Hauptman at the Center for Technological Forecasting and his articles mostly deal with this topic.
    Moshe Nachmani writes every day, so he probably makes a living from the field.
    Prof. Harsgur was an academic and was not a science writer, he was actually a historian who may have occasionally (!) written historical and non-scientific articles.
    They do do holy work in scientific writing, but they do holy "work" and not holy volunteering. Those who volunteer write scientific articles once in a while.
    And this is why there are few scientific reports in the media, because there are mainly reports from those who make a living from the field.

  15. jelly,
    So first of all the conference was published. Look for example: http://www.skeptics.org.il/blog/%D7%94%D7%9B%D7%A0%D7%A1-%D7%94%D7%A9%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%A9%D7%99-%D7%9C%D7%AA%D7%A7%D7%A9%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%AA-%D7%94%D7%9E%D7%93%D7%A2-%D7%91%D7%99%D7%A9%D7%A8%D7%90%D7%9C-%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%A9%D7%9E%D7%95-%D7%91%D7%99%D7%95%D7%9E%D7%A0%D7%99%D7%9D-%D7%95%D7%92%D7%9D-%D7%A7%D7%95%D7%9C-%D7%A7%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%90-%D7%9C%D7%9E%D7%97%D7%A7%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%9D

    Second thing - carefully read the first sentence on this website, it is addressed to you.
    Why haven't we heard complaints similar to yours from Ran Levy, Moshe Nachmani, Avi Blizovsky,Roey Tsezana, the late Prof. Har Segor and all the others who do holy work in popular scientific writing?

  16. Sorry if this sounds blunt and harsh but:
    The media mostly addresses the (low) average, for the majority of users,
    And it turns out that the average level of media consumers in general
    And the written communication in particular.... going up and down,
    The audience is becoming more and more …. Stupid!
    The media invigorates the dumbing down process
    And the offer…. Lack of demand for quality material.
    Respondent 8 showed the process with a simple survey,
    Again and again, the media provides the demand for the survey
    of reactant 8 shows how the demand for simple materials
    increases the supply and thus demand and supply increase each other,
    Overcome the stupidity!

  17. First, who even knew there was a conference on science in the media?? They didn't publish anywhere, so if they don't publish that there is a science conference in the media, then how can they complain about not publishing the science?
    Second, regarding Prof. Ruth Arnon's complaint "a significant decrease in the scope of coverage of scientific issues in the secular written press in Israel".
    It is very difficult to write popular science for the masses - to explain the science in friendly language. The easiest thing is to write a technical article with equations. It's very easy because you don't need to explain the equations, it's an understandable language and a language in itself. Once you have to translate the language of physics and equations into another language, that is, writing an article in a friendly language is already difficult and takes twice as much time.
    But the main problem with this writing a popular science article is that it is very unrewarding and starts to get very frustrating. I was just talking the last few days about Prof. Milton Friedman's famous saying "There are no free meals". This. Popular science writing is just that: a "free lunch". So if there is a salary like that of Ruth Arnon from the academy then one can write articles in popular science. The problem is that scientific reporters do not have such a salary...

  18. Meir Shalev said that Ada Yonat greatly appreciates his father, her Bible teacher, and his way of learning. I didn't know that she appreciated Bible studies, she said so.

  19. In a quick examination of channels on the leading news sites, here is my personal ranking (from bottom to top):

    Voila: there is no science channel, the astrology channel is the first in the "useful" category

    NRG : There is no science channel. Horoscope in the "Main" category, New Age and again a horoscope in the "Style and Leisure" category, under "News" there are two channels that bring some scientific material - green and health.

    YNET: Not a bad science channel at all, but at the same time a magnificent astrology channel

    Ha'aretz: a strong science channel that is divided into sub-sections and covers many topics. There are no astrology, New Age, etc. channels.

  20. I recently saw a Bis8 film about Fran Leibowitz, an American comedian and public speaker. This is a very intelligent woman.
    Here are three things that stuck out in my mind from the movie:

    1. "The problem with getting ahead of other people is that when they arrive full of enthusiasm where you've already been, you can't help but get bored."
    2. “Americans don't hate elitists. Americans love money! Americans don't like smart people. When someone says elitist, they mean smart."
    3. "The AIDS wave of the 80s destroyed all high culture in the USA. It is not only the loss of actors, dancers, musicians. It is about the loss of the audience. A connoisseur audience, that the performing artist knew that he was following and understanding every whim. A private cell? Who has a private cell today? For Wall Street traders? They can't tell the difference between an elephant and a ballet dancer."

  21. Thank you for the compliments. I was at the conference and I even joked with myself that part of the problem with the study in 1998 (which found a lot of science news) was my fault, but it turns out that there were more science articles not only in Israel but in all the newspapers in the previous study from 1998. And by the way, I received compliments from several speakers.
    In my opinion, the level has decreased because the average age and the average level of education as well as the general knowledge of the editors have decreased due to the cuts resulting from the decrease in advertising revenue. Even the old and wise editors believe that they are exceptional and that the people do not understand like they do, therefore they should not be given science.

  22. I remember that "Yedyot Ahronoth" once a week (I think on Sundays) had a page with news about science. Later it went down to a column (about a quarter of a page) and at the end it also "disappeared".
    Since then I have been blessing Avi Blizovsky every day. What was in "Yediot Ahronoth" once a week I have here every day (in a larger and more in-depth quantity).

  23. When the reader's level drops, the level goes down accordingly. It is impossible to create a common denominator close to the ground and look for quality and effective articles.

  24. But father, what is the cause of concern? After all, the New Age section at NRG in the bookstores and at the book week stands is growing and flourishing day by day. So at most if we don't know science we will be happy, open chakras and blossom in the energetic plane.

    In the end, your site will be declared a declared nature reserve!

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