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