When science and journalism interactions cross language and socio-cultural boundaries, di Ayumi Koso e Euan McKay


 When you visit a country for the first time you often suddenly become aware that the norms and values you bring with you are not necessarily shared with that society. So what happens when science and journalism interact across socio-cultural or language boundaries?

Science communication literature suggests that the relationship between science and journalism has changed over time. Earlier literature found that there is a distance between the two cultures as scientists preferred to talk with their colleagues more than with journalists. Later findings based on surveys conducted in five countries showed that the separation was not as large as suggested because scientists were interacting with journalists much smoothly and frequently than previously thought. More recently, science has become more oriented towards media as expressed in the term ‘medialization’ of science, with increased numbers of professional staff employed at scientific institutions to disseminate their scientific output.

However, much research is founded on interactions within a single socio-cultural context. Whether such transitions are happening for science and journalism interactions that cross socio-cultural or language boundaries needs exploration. Studies of how English-language science communication is developing in countries such as Japan, South Korea, and China where English is a second language may provide insights into such interactions between science and journalism.

In Japan, modern science communication, the promotion of dialogue between scientists and the lay audience in the Japanese language became popular in the mid-2000s. In contrast, the recent rising need to reach out to a global lay audience in the English language has been fueled by government initiatives to raise the global visibility of Japanese science. In addition, several indices suggest that Japan is losing its position as a science powerhouse. A study showed that compared to the 1990s, the rate of journal publications decreased in Japan in the 2000s. While the number of international collaborative projects are increasing worldwide, scientists in the US, UK, and Germany are collaborating less with Japanese scientists. More recent figures show that Japan’s production of scientific papers has continued to decline between 2012 and 2017 and this trend is observable across all major scientific disciplines.

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