17 March 2008

Much is explained

Many lament the lack of scientific knowledge of those outside of the field -- the general public, the lay audience, etc. A new report of cable news networks gives one possible indication of why that might be.

Amount of time spent on reporting on science and technology on cable news networks:

Less than 1%.

Okay, but lots of people have pointed out problems with cable news network coverage, particularly in the U.S. They have 24 hours to fill, must be on air, and have very little time for reflection or investigation.

And indeed, the broadcast news networks fare better.


What about newspapers, that bastion of investigative journalism, thoughtful reflection, and longer attention spans? Also 2%.

But what about the internet? I mean, the whole internet is based on science and technology, was first put to practical use by universities...


And remember, this is science and technology. If you took out coverage of computer stories -- announcement of a new iPod, Google buying... anything, maybe the HD DVD Blu-Ray war is counted in there -- I shudder to think what the values would be. I think there would be a few zeros between the decimal and the number.

Only one science-related story -- global warming -- made the top 10 stories in any of those four media, with an astonishing 1% of coverage on network news. Astonishingly low, that is.

I was going to make a graph of this, but it was too depressing. Is it any surprise that people do not have a good understanding of science when they hear so little about it?

(Thanks to Framing Science blog for pointing this out.)

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