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Das Science Media Center Germany [The Science Media Center Germany]

Das Science Media Center Germany [The Science Media Center Germany]

Irene Broer and Louisa Pröschel took a closer look at the Science Media Center Germany and its role between science and journalism. The results of their ethnographic study are now available for download as No. 57 in the series "Arbeitspapiere des Hans-Bredow-Instituts [Working Papers of the Hans Bredow Institute]".

Broer, Irene; Pröschel, Louisa (2021): Das Science Media Center Germany: Ethnographische Einblicke in die Arbeitsweisen und Rollen eines Intermediärs zwischen Wissenschaft und Journalismus [The Science Media Center Germany. Ethnographic Insights into the Working mMthods and Roles of an Intermediary between Science and Journalism. Hamburg: Verlag Hans-Bredow-Institut, Juni 2021 (Arbeitspapiere des Hans-Bredow-Instituts | Projektergebnisse Nr. 57), DOI: https://doi.org/10.21241/ssoar.73542, ISBN 978-3-87296-169-3 (pdf)

As part of the BMBF joint project „MeWiKo – Media and Scientific Communication“, two four-week newsroom ethnographies were conducted in January and October 2020 at the Science Media Center Germany (SMC), based in Cologne. During the first ethnography, which was particularly interested in the role and structure of the intermediary organization, the first cases of COVID-19 were detected in Europe. This unpredictable development led to a follow-up ethnography being conducted in October 2020, which focused on developments in the SMC-newsroom since the beginning of the pandemic. The dataset from both ethnographies contains 28 interviews, 42 field notes, 168 SMC publications. The main findings are summarized below:

  • The SMC is an editorial, intermediary organization between science and journalism.
  • The SMC main audience is science journalism, which it supports by providing scientific expertise, for example, by pre-selecting new scientific findings, identifying publicly debated scientific issues, and summarizing complex scientific knowledge.
  • With the help of the ethnographic data, we were able to define three overarching goals that shape SMC work: To support practical journalism, to bring scientific topics with socio-political relevance into the public discourse, and to raise the status of qualitative, scientific knowledge in society and politics.
  • We were able to identify several editorial processes in our ethnographies: Gatewatching of various scientific, media, and policy sources; decision-making about reporting based on journalistic, scientific, strategic, and organizational criteria; and the production of publications and broadcasts.
  • The position and work of the SMC depends on flexible, trusting relationships with actors from science, journalism, and society.
  • As an intermediary organization, the SMC must be able to react flexibly to external influences in journalism, science and society. It must constantly adapt its working practices to developments in these fields and be able to respond to new needs that arise as a result.
  • The SMC is constantly evolving. It changes as an organization through personnel changes, revises and creates editorial practices, and innovates products.
  • The SMC assumes several intermediary roles in its work practices, defined by us as Knowledge-Broker, Trust-Broker, Value-Broker roles of which the latter two were particularly apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The SMC increasingly emerges as an independent actor, occupying a central position in science communication that extends beyond its impact into journalism.

Das Science Media Center Germany [The Science Media Center Germany]

Irene Broer and Louisa Pröschel took a closer look at the Science Media Center Germany and its role between science and journalism. The results of their ethnographic study are now available for download as No. 57 in the series "Arbeitspapiere des Hans-Bredow-Instituts [Working Papers of the Hans Bredow Institute]".

Broer, Irene; Pröschel, Louisa (2021): Das Science Media Center Germany: Ethnographische Einblicke in die Arbeitsweisen und Rollen eines Intermediärs zwischen Wissenschaft und Journalismus [The Science Media Center Germany. Ethnographic Insights into the Working mMthods and Roles of an Intermediary between Science and Journalism. Hamburg: Verlag Hans-Bredow-Institut, Juni 2021 (Arbeitspapiere des Hans-Bredow-Instituts | Projektergebnisse Nr. 57), DOI: https://doi.org/10.21241/ssoar.73542, ISBN 978-3-87296-169-3 (pdf)

As part of the BMBF joint project „MeWiKo – Media and Scientific Communication“, two four-week newsroom ethnographies were conducted in January and October 2020 at the Science Media Center Germany (SMC), based in Cologne. During the first ethnography, which was particularly interested in the role and structure of the intermediary organization, the first cases of COVID-19 were detected in Europe. This unpredictable development led to a follow-up ethnography being conducted in October 2020, which focused on developments in the SMC-newsroom since the beginning of the pandemic. The dataset from both ethnographies contains 28 interviews, 42 field notes, 168 SMC publications. The main findings are summarized below:

  • The SMC is an editorial, intermediary organization between science and journalism.
  • The SMC main audience is science journalism, which it supports by providing scientific expertise, for example, by pre-selecting new scientific findings, identifying publicly debated scientific issues, and summarizing complex scientific knowledge.
  • With the help of the ethnographic data, we were able to define three overarching goals that shape SMC work: To support practical journalism, to bring scientific topics with socio-political relevance into the public discourse, and to raise the status of qualitative, scientific knowledge in society and politics.
  • We were able to identify several editorial processes in our ethnographies: Gatewatching of various scientific, media, and policy sources; decision-making about reporting based on journalistic, scientific, strategic, and organizational criteria; and the production of publications and broadcasts.
  • The position and work of the SMC depends on flexible, trusting relationships with actors from science, journalism, and society.
  • As an intermediary organization, the SMC must be able to react flexibly to external influences in journalism, science and society. It must constantly adapt its working practices to developments in these fields and be able to respond to new needs that arise as a result.
  • The SMC is constantly evolving. It changes as an organization through personnel changes, revises and creates editorial practices, and innovates products.
  • The SMC assumes several intermediary roles in its work practices, defined by us as Knowledge-Broker, Trust-Broker, Value-Broker roles of which the latter two were particularly apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The SMC increasingly emerges as an independent actor, occupying a central position in science communication that extends beyond its impact into journalism.

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Year of publication

2021

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