Brussels, 3 December 2007
While the public in Member States that were part of the EU before 2004 are generally open to science news, with more than 62% saying that they are interested in scientific research, this figure falls to just 38% for those Member States that joined since 2004. The differences range from 80% in Sweden to just 24% in Bulgaria. This is just one of the findings in a new Eurobarometer survey on scientific research in the media. The survey also shows a difference in the subjects of interest, with the newer Member States more focused on information technology and space, whereas the pre-2004 Member States saw higher levels of interest in medicine, environment and energy. This survey is being presented at the First European Forum on Science Journalism, taking place in Barcelona on 3 and 4 December. A new European Guide to Science Journalism Training will also be presented at that event, along with two studies assessing the attitudes of European scientists and senior media representatives respectively on the practices, challenges and opportunities they encounter in their daily work.
"There is so much science being done that has a direct impact on our daily lives, and it is important that the public is able to find out about it and engage with scientists," said European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik. "The media has an immensely important role to play here, both in keeping people informed about scientific developments and in shaping how society perceives scientists and the work they do. I hope this first European Forum on Science Journalism will be the start of a renewal of the dialogue between scientists and the media."
Europeans are generally satisfied with the presentation of science in the media, with more than the half (56%) expressing their contentment. However, almost a quarter (24%) of those questioned were dissatisfied and a fifth (20%) had no opinion. The great majority considered the scientific information they got from the media to be reliable (65%), objective (63%), useful (60%), varied (57%) and sufficiently visual (57%). At the same time there were complaints that the issues were difficult to understand (49%), far from their concerns (45%) and not entertaining (51%). Generally those questions indicated that they would prefer scientists (52%) to present scientific information, rather than journalists (14%). There was also a marked preference for short news reports rather than longer in-depth pieces.
Television was the most popular (61%) and most trusted (47%) medium for
information about science, though there was a preference for traditional (47%),
rather than thematic (27%) TV channels. Virtually every second European surveyed
(49%) read science articles in general newspapers and magazines. Around a third
of EU citizens listened to radio programs (26%) and looked at information about
this topic on the Internet (28%).