NELKIN Uneasy Relationship Media and Medicine

NELKIN Uneasy Relationship Media and Medicine - Nelkin An...

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Nelkin “An Uneasy Relationship” Title: An uneasy relationship: The tensions between medicine and the media. Authors: Nelkin, Dorothy Source: Lancet; 06/08/96, Vol. 347 Issue 9015, p1600, 4p Document Type: Article Subject Terms: *JOURNALISM, Medical Abstract: Concludes a series of articles on medicine and the media by mulling the source of the tension between the biomedical community and journalists. How the two groups' perspectives on what is newsworthy about science differs; The groups' different types of communication; When scientists consider research reliable; Conflicting views of the media's role; Sensationalism; The level of understanding the general readership has. INSET: The polarised coverage of AIDS by the media. Full Text Word Count: 4045 ISSN: 0099-5355 Accession Number: 9606187816 Database: Academic Search Premier Section: Medicine and the media 1
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Nelkin “An Uneasy Relationship” AN UNEASY RELATIONSHIP: THE TENSIONS BETWEEN MEDICINE AND THE MEDIA The enduring tensions between medicine and the media are largely due to the different perspectives of biomedical scientists and journalists, as this final essay in the series on medicine and the media underscores. These tensions arise because of perceived differences in defining science news, conflicts over styles of science reporting, and most of all disagreement about the role of the media. In the 1990s, scientists are especially concerned by media messages that question their credibility. Since scientists and journalists depend on each other in the communication of science and the shaping of the public meaning of science and medicine, the tensions are likely to increase. In 1993, an experiment at a George Washington University laboratory elicited a remarkable media response. The researchers had "twinned" a non-viable human embryo to create additional embryos, but journalists wrote about the experiment as if it were a cloning technology for the mass production of human beings. Whereas scientists regarded their research as a contribution to the technique of in-vitro fertilisation, reporters envisioned selective breeding factories, the production of children as organ donors, and a cloning industry for selling multiples of human beings. Time reported a "Brave new world of cooky cutter humans"; to the media, medical scientists were "playing God".[ 1 ] This incident illustrates the differences in the perspectives of biomedical scientists and journalists. Though increasingly interdependent in the "media-ted" world, these two professions often differ in their definition of what is newsworthy about science, their styles of communication, and their vision of the media's role. The authors of the preceding articles in the series on medicine and the media have all commented on these differences.[ 2-8 ] This concluding essay will focus on them, for they underlie tensions that are bound to increase in the coming years in view of the significant changes taking place in the public face of science.
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