Is it true at all that Italian media do not engage so much with science? What space is left for science and technology in comparison with other topics? Which are the most addressed scientific-technological issues? And how are these issues discussed? Science in the Media Monitor was created to answer such questions.
The monitor uses a specific software, developed by Observa – Science in Society, in order to check the presence, on a daily basis, of scientific and technological contents within on-line newspapers, both from a quantitative and qualitative profile. Science in the Media Monitor systematically collects articles published on the on-line version of the main Italian newspapers (Il Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, Il Sole 24 Ore, La Stampa); furthermore, it analyses the contents of the articles in order to select those relevant with respect to science and technology.
Thanks to this, the developments of public agenda as well as the discussion on these issues can be tracked. Moreover, the monitor can analyse the contribution and role played by the media toward forming opinions and perceptions on science and technology.
Among the relevant articles, there are not only those explicitly dedicated to science and technology (such as a new discovery or invention, or the discussion of their social and cultural implications), rather there are also all these articles with a high technoscientific content.
The system is designed to include, for example, sport news addressing the issue of doping with the help of doctors and scientists, or articles addressing the problem of waste disposal with a view to the technical and scientific aspects of possible solutions.
Furthermore, this system allows to obtain articles belonging to specific sectors or on specific themes (such as nanotechnologies or swine flue) thus making evident attention cycles and tendencies.
In 2008 the software selected 5.221 relevant articles on scientific-technological themes: this number corresponds to 11% of all articles published by the four newspapers. This already in itself highlights a certain attention to science and technology-related topics. Out of the four newspapers considered, Sole 24 Ore is the newspaper with the highest incidence of relevant articles (13%).
Science in the Media Monitor – supported by the San Paolo Foundation – will continue its activity in the next months and the complete results will be presented officially next Fall in Genoa in the context of the Science Festival.
Article published on Nòva 24 – Il Sole 24 Ore, May 28 2009.