How the Media Influences the Public Perception of Science

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 3956
  • Published: February 21, 2012
Read full document
Text Preview
Sometimes careless science publishing can weaken the public’s confidence in science and the government. The Media is enormously powerful and leading and will influence people’s opinions on everything. There are plenty of stories in the media that will change the public’s perception of science or even make them see a new perception. Sometimes these stories are just written to scare the public into believing a certain thing just so they can sell their stories.

Stories sometimes are true and sometimes they are false but it is up to the public to believe in what is right and what is wrong. In this day and age, where information is available at the touch of a mouse, it’s not surprising that the media is a particularly dominant and powerful force in our civilization. Research has shown that the newspapers are the public’s primary source of information on scientific issues.

Bird flu is a type of flu normally found in birds. Infected birds shed influenza virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and faeces. Susceptible birds become infected when they have contact with contaminated excretions or with surfaces that are contaminated with excretions or secretions. Although bird flu viruses do not usually infect humans, more than 100 confirmed cases of human infection with bird flu viruses have occurred since 1997. Most cases of bird flu infection in humans have resulted from direct or close contact with infected poultry (domesticated chickens, ducks, and turkeys) or with surfaces contaminated with secretions and excretions from infected birds. The spread of bird flu viruses from an ill person to another person has been reported only rarely, and transmission has not been observed to continue beyond one person.

On the 6th of April 2006, there was a scare regarding the bird flu virus, a swan was found dead in a village in Scotland. Officials from Scotland started testing the swan for bird flu and later on that week it was confirmed that the swan did die of bird flu. Immediately, the media started covering the story and began creating a negative picture. I analysed the story written by a tabloid newspaper and a broadsheet with the intention to find out which type of newspaper exaggerates and alters the public’s perception of a scientific topic like the bird flu. The tabloid newspaper is the Sun and the broadsheet newspaper is the Times.

Firstly I will analyse the story written by the Sun, this tabloid covered the same story as the Times and therefore we can find out their intentions. The Sun had the following bold headline “Deadly strain confirmed”, I can clearly see from the start that they are trying to create a scare in the public and capture the reader’s attention very fast, this is because they don’t tell you what deadly strain they are talking about, if I were to see this in a newspaper lying around I would pick it up because it already got me worried and caught my attention. This has made me think, are they trying to inform the reader or just trying to sell their story? You only learn what the deadly strain is after you read paragraph 1 so this proves my point. On the 3rd paragraph the Sun states the following “the swan had the strain which can be fatal to humans.” Instead of just using “the swan had the H5N1 strain” the Sun chooses to create more of an impact by using the word “fatal” and implying it to humans. This makes the beginning of the article to cause fear, evoke an element of alarm and perhaps imply that the readers should be fearful for their own health. The article also mentions experts rushing to the scene to carry out tests, and this portraits a feeling of urgency. The readers are told “Confirmation of the H5N1 virus means a massive public protection operation will swing into action, this could include people having to leave their homes and a restriction on where they can travel.” the Sun is again creating scenarios that strike at the heart of what its reader’s value, their homes and their freedom to...
tracking img