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Science News & Information: The Internet Challenge Prepared for “Covering Science in Cyberspace” Knight New Media Center, March 2007 John B. Horrigan Associate Director for Research Structure of talk Things that might scare providers of science news and information

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Science News & Information:The Internet ChallengePrepared for “Covering Science in Cyberspace”Knight New Media Center, March 2007John B. HorriganAssociate Director for Research

structure of talk
Structure of talk
  • Things that might scare providers of science news and information
  • Things that might buck them up
  • A few puzzlers from the study
  • The challenges it presents to providers of science news & information
not so scary stuff
Not-so-scary stuff
  • Science news consumers are careful to check scientific information & claims
  • Real opportunities to use online information to improve people’s attitudes about science & society.
what do people do when they get science information online
What do people do when they get science information online?
  • Fact-checking:
    • 62%: use other online information for this
    • 54%: use an offline source for fact-checking
    • 54%: turn to original source to verify information
  • Range of research:
    • 70%: look up meaning of scientific term or concept
    • 65%: learn more about a science story of discovery first heard of offline
    • 55%: complete science school assignment (self or child)
    • 52%: check accuracy of fact or statistic
attitudes toward science
Attitudes toward science
  • Positive correlations between use of science resources online and self-reported:
    • Understanding of science
    • Knowledge of scientific discoveries
  • As well as greater likelihood of agreeing with:
    • Statements about importance of science to a strong society
    • The role of scientific research in improving quality of life
puzzlers
Puzzlers
  • Convenience
    • 71% of internet users say the convenience of the internet is why they turn to the internet for science information
    • 13% say it is because science information online is more reliable than other sources
  • Happenstance
    • 65% of internet users encounter science news when they’ve gone online with another purpose in mind
    • This compares with 36% of internet users who say this about political news & information
challenges
Challenges
  • User-generated content
    • Important part of online commons
    • Tends to increase velocity of information
      • Expert chatter
      • Amateur bloviation
  • Original reporting & generation of reliable content
  • Neither can exist without the other
    • Suggest successful science news & information providers will be aggregators, not just content provider.