Science in the media : A snapshot of science coverage

For a five year period, the AusSMC tracked science topics covered in the Australian mainstream media (broadcast and press) based on a search of 12 key-words.

The results for the three months ending 31 October in the years 2005 to 2009 show how coverage of certain topics in the media change over time…

  • Climate change stories increased every year, jumping from 561 in 2005 (comprising 14.8% of the total) to a whopping 5190 in 2008 (67.3% of the total for that year).
  • The biggest drop in coverage from 2005 to 2008 was bird flu which received just 36 mentions in 2008 (Aug-Oct) compared to 1534 stories for the same period in 2005. Notably, 2006 (230) and 2007 (281) were also significantly lower than the 2005 total.
  • Stem cell research received the most coverage in Aug-Oct 2006 with 2253 stories compared to just 235 for the corresponding period in 2005, 524 in 2007, and a low of 101 in 2008.
  • Coverage of nuclear stories rose from 395 in 2005 to 1157 in 2006 (193% increase) and 1197 in 2007. The number halved to 594 in 2008 (after the federal election).

See the five pie-graphs below for a more detailed breakdown.

Reports prepared by iSentia – a foundation supporter of the AusSMC.

2009-trim

Figure 1: Share of volume by key scientific topic for 1 August to 31 October, 2009 in the Australian mainstream media (press and broadcast). Only items that referred to scientific research or policy were included in the search. Note: Biofuels was dropped after 2006 and two new categories were added – Renewable Energy and Ageing and Dementia

2008e_003

Figure 2: Share of volume by key scientific topic for 1 August to 31 October, 2008 in the Australian mainstream media (press and broadcast). Only items that referred to scientific research or policy were included in the search. Note: Biofuels was dropped after 2006 and two new categories were added – Renewable Energy and Ageing and Dementia.

2007e_001

Figure 3: Share of volume by key scientific topic for 1 August to 31 October, 2007 in the Australian mainstream media (press and broadcast). Only items that referred to scientific research or policy were included in the search. Note: Biofuels was dropped after 2006 and two new categories were added – Renewable Energy and Ageing and Dementia. Genetically Modified Organisms does not appear in the 2007 chart because it received just 5 results, meaning it was less than .1% of the total results and is therefore too small to show.

2006e_000

Figure 4: Share of volume by key scientific topic for 1 August to 31 October, 2006 in the Australian mainstream media (press and broadcast). Only items that referred to scientific research or policy were included in the search.

2005e_000

Figure 5: Share of volume by key scientific topic for 1 August to 31 October, 2005 in the Australian mainstream media (press and broadcast). Only items that referred to scientific research or policy were included in the search.