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Journalism and scientific uncertainty

"Journalistic construction of (un-)certainty: Semantic transformation processes in the reporting of neuroscience"

The project investigates how journalism constructs certainty or uncertainty of scientific expertise for the media audience in the reporting on neuroscience – given the fragility, controversial character and need for interpretation of the neuroscientific knowledge.

We will analyze neuroscientists' talks with journalists and media interviews in which scientific information offers meet journalistic information demands, and scientific and journalistic principles of dealing with uncertainty compete. In 25 qualitative case studies the "co-construction" of (un-)certainty by scientists and journalists will be reconstructed through the analysis of conversation transcripts and documents.

The goals are to characterize the typical transformations of scientific into public (un-)certainty, to develop a typology of forms of journalistic handling of (un-)certainty, and to identify influencing factors.

The project is supported by a grant from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) in the special priority program "Science and the general public: Understanding fragile and conflicting evidence"..

Project duration:2011-2013
Scientific project leader:Prof. Dr. Hans Peter Peters
Research scientists:
Dr. Markus Lehmkuhl
Yin-Yueh Lo M.Sc.