Gap between scientist and science communicator

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THE RELATIONSHIP between science and the public, and specifically media has been categorized by terms such as “coldness”, “gap”, “distance”, and “obstacle”. According to different studies on the relationship between science and journalism, it is claimed that the distance between science and journalism is directly associated with nations future. In Pakistan, among the factors hindering communication, it is noted that scientists and journalists are like strangers to each other, not able to understand each others language, and driven by different agendas. Furthermore, there is a negative perception of the general media coverage of science and technology by scientists. Leading scientists have frequently commented on the problems of the public understanding of science, and the public communication leading to these problems. The many activities targeting to advance the science-media relationship and to search substitute means of communicating with the public verify the almost global sensitivity of an inadequate relationship between science and the media. Besides indication of a critical assessment of the media coverage on science and technology in general, there is a strong enthusiasm on the part of some scientists to communicate with the media and extreme coordination of scientists and journalists, but in a limited number. These scientists are actually networking with journalists, some of them become particularly evident in the public, but popularization activities were not limited to a few evident scientists. The concept of a gap among science and the media may not be an effective explanation of the science-media border if it is taken to mean a gap splitting scientists and journalists, with scientists standing on one side and journalists on the other. In reality, Scientists in the “public arena” have to modify to the logic of the media to attract attention. The other feature of the “gap” matters the gulf between scientific or academic knowledge and everyday knowledge. The scientist link this knowledge with “scientific research”, whereas, the journalistic reporting of science labels this knowledge as originating from a different sphere than that of journalists and their audiences. Interestingly, the social sciences show a less strict separation between internal scientific and public communication and between scientific and general knowledge than the natural sciences. Social scientists more frequently address a broader audience than researchers in the fields of technology, medical sciences, and natural sciences. When dealing with the mass media, social scientists are more aware that they are communicating to an audience of “outsiders”, which is not much familiar with technicality or idea. This gap has two aspects: First, the content of communication marked as “classified” and carrying the label “scientific,” is not easily combined into the everyday knowledge of the audience. Second, scientific knowledge is created and validated without the likelihood that the general public should be concerned. Whereas, science communication is likely to publicize scientific knowledge and knowledge about science, making this knowledge commonly understandable for audiences outside the scientific community; this generally refers to public communication presenting science-related topics to non-experts. The future of relationship between science and the media is currently looking uncertain, but with the advent of web, such as blogs and social networks open up new openings for science communication. With the help of info-communication technologies the “gap” between internal scientific communication and public science communication can be narrowed. Will this happen, and what would be the consequences? Investigating these questions is certainly a priority for science communication researchers as well as scientists themselves.


Published in: Volume 06 Issue 20

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