Explaining complex scientific findings to the media, society and policymakers represents many challenges. In particular, the publication of findings that indicate potentially problematic developments or dictate an urgent need for action does not always generate an objective debate based on actual facts.
Media reporting on research developments or findings that are of great public – and possibly of political and/or economic – interest are subject to specific constraints such as competition for attention, economic significance, and comparative news value that compels the media to simplify and over-dramatize information.
At the same time, scientific institutes’ communication strategies are increasingly aimed at obtaining public approval. This creates resonance effects, which can intensify or dilute the contents of the information inappropriately in certain cases. Resonance effects can also lead to reactions among the public (in the broad sense, this includes civil society, churches, associations, non-governmental organisations, etc.), policymakers, business and industry that, in the opinion of scientific organisations, bear little relation to the information actually communicated. Put briefly, communication between science and the media is problematic.
Neither side should be blamed for this situation, as the difficulties arise from the structural conditions under which this communication takes place.
The statement has two goals. Firstly, it wants to help people to gain an understanding of the unavoidable structural barriers and the communication problems arising from them. Secondly, it wants to explore opportunities for improving communication via a well-thought-out quality management strategy. Additionally, the statement gives recommendations to politics, science and the media.
Scientific Officer, Department Science - Policy - Society
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