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Technology, health, information science and the environment are the main topics in science news
Technology in general, health, information technology and the environment were the main topics in science news stories appearing in newspapers published in the Basque Country in the first four months of 2008. This said, the front pages of these dailies give health matters priority, followed by the environment and then technology.
These were some of the conclusions drawn from a research study and published by the Elhuyar Foundation. They analysed 11 daily newspapers (Berria, Deia, Diario de Navarra, El Correo, El Diario Vasco, Gara, Le Journal du Pays Basque, Diario de Noticias, Noticias de Gipuzkoa, Noticias de Alava and Sud Ouest) from the 1st of January to the 30th of April, 2008. The methodology of analysing the profile of science stories in the press was to gather the texts of articles published about science, technology and innovation. 6,448 texts in total were collected and a study of these led to the following conclusions:
Most texts (82%) were published in Spanish, the majority of the newspapers analysed being published in this language. The Vocento Group dailies (the El Correo Español and the Diario Vasco) published most of the articles (932 and 741 respectively); third place in this classification was the Noticias de Gipuzkoa with 715 texts.
Science is not important
Most of the texts published (1,089) were of little importance, according to the Richard Budd scale (space given over to the news, the page the news item appears on and the use of graphics or otherwise), and the number of items of especial importance was only 55.
The research results showed that the topics chosen by journalists in providing information on science, technology and innovation were focused basically on technology in general, health, information technology and the environment.
The daily newspapers usually give mere information — brief news items —, although it could not be said that they totally discard an interpretation of such items.
The study also showed that the dailies do not publish many opinion articles on science, technology and innovation and less so editorial opinion on these matters. In the period under study, the eleven newspapers analysed published only 26 editorials on topics related to science, technology and innovation.
However, we can say that these dailies maintain a favourable attitude to science, technology and innovation, although this is not directly demonstrated. Thus, the perspective of most of the news items in these fields is positive, although in journalism bad news tends to have greater possibilities for publication than good news.
Above all, the newspapers publish news stories of an official nature related to science, technology and innovation and which are generally related to the Basque Country or to the European Union; more than half (60%) of the sources for the news stories were government bodies. It also has to be pointed out that 25% of news is of unknown origin (the source of or the person responsible for the item is not known), as the newspapers do not provide this information.
Finally, the topics chosen by journalists in the Basque Country to inform about science, technology and innovation are similar to those selected by their European homologues. Moreover, the problems Basque journalists have in trying to identify the origin/author of the news related to these topics are also those mentioned by European communication media professionals.
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