SPECIAL ISSUE OF JOURNALISM: THEORY, PRACTICE AND CRITICISM
Guest Editor: Stuart Allan, Bournemouth University, UK
In taking science journalism as its focus, this special issue of Journalism will seek to contribute to current debates about the ways in which this important genre of reporting is being transformed by the changes ushered in by digital media.
Today it is readily apparent that precisely what counts as ‘science news’ is undergoing dramatic redefinition as the convergence of ‘old’ and ‘new’ media continues apace. The challenges facing the science journalist have always been formidable, of course, but the internet and associated digital technologies are bringing to bear new pressures and constraints – as well as creating fresh opportunities for innovation – deserving of our close attention. While the very future of science journalism is being called into question by some, others point to alternative approaches to science reporting that are flourishing online.
In exploring these concerns, this special issue’s agenda is informed by a sense of urgency. At a time when many news organizations are under intense financial pressure to trim or reduce expenditure on specialist, investigative reporting, it is all too often the case that science news is regarded as expendable. In the eyes of some, it is a luxury increasingly difficult to justify when other types of news will be more popular with audiences (and thus advertisers). CNN’s decision to cut its entire science, technology and environment news staff, for example, provoked widespread alarm when it was announced in 2008. Few commentators failed to note the irony that science issues – such as climate change, stem cell research, evolution and bio-terrorism – were proving sufficiently controversial to attract intense news coverage at the time.
Accordingly, a guiding theme of the special issue is that current assessments of the news media’s public responsibilities in a democracy can be enriched by inquiries into the changing nature of science journalism. Possible topics to be examined may include:
- The political economy of science journalism
- Journalists’ uses of digital technologies in science reporting
- Rethinking the news values of science coverage
- Scientists as news sources and the politics of expertise
- The framing of controversy in science stories
- The impact of blogging on science news
- Audience perceptions of science news on the web
- Science journalism and social networking
Prospective authors should submit an abstract of approximately 250 words by email to Stuart Allan (firstname.lastname@example.org). A selection of authors will be invited to submit a full paper according to the journal’s Notes for Contributors. Acceptance of the abstract does not guarantee publication, given that all papers will be subjected to peer review.
Deadline for abstracts: 1 October, 2010; deadline for submission of articles: 31 December, 2010. Final revised papers due: March, 2011. Publication: Volume 12, No. 7
Stuart Allan’s science-related publications include Environmental Risks and the Media (co-edited, 2000), Media, Risk and Science (2002), and Nanotechnology, Risk and Communication (co-authored, 2009). Recent co-written journal articles have appeared in New Genetics and Society (2005), Science Communication (2005), Health, Risk & Society (2007), Public Understanding of Science (2009), and Journal of Risk Research (2010).
Professor Stuart Allan
The Media School