Who is having a voice? Journalists' selection of sources in a creationism controversy in the UK press

  • Allgaier J
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Abstract

Media accounts of reality have the potential to influence public opinion and decision making processes. Therefore who has and who does not have access to the media and can make their voice heard is a crucial question with serious political consequences. In this article it is investigated whether the specialty of journalists influences their source selection procedures. The coverage of science in schools is an interesting example, since it can be covered by specialized science or education correspondents, but also by general news reporters. A public controversy in the UK about the inclusion of creationism in a school is used to identify which types of sources were selected by various journalists. The focus is upon the selection of sources and whether journalists with different specialties consider various sources relevant and credible. A content analysis of articles, featuring this controversy, is combined with an analysis of correspondent's strategies for selecting sources based on interviews with them. The findings suggest that compared to journalists that specialize in education issues, science correspondents employ a narrower scope when seeking sources. This might have important consequences for the representation of views on science education in the media. (Contains 1 table and 7 footnotes.)

Author-supplied keywords

  • Education coverage
  • Journalistic practice
  • Objectivity
  • Sources
  • Specialist correspondents

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Authors

  • Joachim Allgaier

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