Save Science, Keep Science in the News

Target: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post

Goal: Increase public appreciation of science by providing better newspaper coverage.

We live in a society dependent upon technology for medicine, leisure, work, and energy sources. These technologies are provided to us by scientists. As recently reported by Christopher Zara of the International Business Times, the number of newspapers with a weekly science section has dropped from 95 to 19 since 1989. There is a common misconception that science is merely information. However our reliance upon technology shows that science is important to us. The public needs to better understand that discoveries in science lead to important inventions, such as the internet and medicine. Fostering a better relationship between the public’s understanding and interest in science is dependent upon media coverage.

With growing concerns about health, fears of global warming, and interests in technology, it is obvious that science is of interest to the public. However due to budget cuts and changes in the structure of the media industry, these topics have not been covered by specialized science journalists. Science journalists are specifically qualified to write about the science behind the latest diet crazes and apocalyptic scenarios that are popularized in the media. Having writers that properly understand such concepts is essential to the public’s understanding of science and how it affects their lives. Furthermore, this lack of quality has contributed to the misconception of science not directly affecting the public’s lives. Public interest and understanding of what scientific discoveries are made and how they can contribute to society is vital to both science and society. It is the general public who elects the politicians, and the politicians who decide where funding goes. Without a public interest in science, laboratories and research receive less funding. Consequently, politicians also become less considerate of science in their policy-making.  Improving the quality and quantity of science coverage in non-specialized newspapers will aid the public and politicians in making informed decisions about the environment and healthcare.

Scientists create the technology that we rely on daily. Increasing the communication between scientists and the public will allow them to serve society better and allow us to fund and show our appreciation for their work. Help science and help humanity by demanding better and more science coverage in our news.

PETITION LETTER

Dear Newspaper Professionals,

Science is important to everyone. For example, your publication has increased its availability to readers with the internet, an invention accidentally created by high-energy physicists. Your coverage of science has fostered a relationship between science and the public that has been beneficial to both. Public interest in science leads to more funding for research programs. This interest also leads to more science-conscious politicians and informed policy-making. By increasing science coverage in your publication, you will be able to benefit both the science community and your own.

To effectively do so, this science coverage must be done by journalists who properly understand the topics. There is a reason why English professors do not teach Calculus. This is not to insult anyone’s skills, but merely to point out that having specialized professionals is important to the success and effectiveness of universities and news publications. Having more specialized science journalists will improve the quality of your publication’s articles, leading to more engagement and effective communication with your audience. Furthermore, this lack of quality has displaced the science community from the general public’s sense of community. I have seen numerous misquotes and incorrect information presented to the general public. As a scientist and avid media consumer, I am sensitive to the effect of this on both sides. Scientists become less willingly to speak to reporters, because their work and words are poorly represented. Consequently, non-science audience members misunderstand the workings of the science community and how they benefit society. This misunderstanding is contributes to the public’s disinterest and misconception of science.

This problem is also fueled by the lack of science coverage in your publications. To improve the relationship between science and society, the public must have access to the information. This responsibility is yours. People read newspapers to learn about what is important. By increasing the volume of science articles in your publications, you will be physically representing how important science is to the public. An abundance of science articles will illustrate the numerous ways in which science benefits the community.

Public interest and understanding of what scientific discoveries are made and how they can contribute to society is vital to both science and society. For example, more and better coverage of how our environment is deteriorating can help sustain our planet. The effects of a failing economy are more apparent to the public than the deterioration of our planet. This is caused by the direct effect it has on everyone’s incomes, but also by the media coverage given to the state of the market. A better, more scientific understanding of the environment will grab the attention of the public and urge politicians to make policies that focus on sustainability rather than economic growth. It is the general public who elects the politicians, and the politicians who decide where funding goes. Without a public interest in science, laboratories and research receive less funding. Consequently, politicians also become less considerate of science in their policy-making. Improving the quality and quantity of your science coverage is a service to society that only you can provide.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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