Handling of scientific evidence in mass media’s science coverage

The research project deals with a crucial spot in the relationship between science and public. It analyzes the role of mass media and journalists in the emergence of public for scientific topics. The project focuses on topics and protagonists of journalistic communication about science – particularly with regard to its handling of scientific uncertainty. Thus, object of investigation is on the one hand the science reporting of 17 high-coverage media products through all kind of media. It will be investigated, how fragile and conflicting scientific evidences are presented in mass media coverage. On the other hand science journalists working for the chosen media products will be questioned about their handling of fragile knowledge. Which strategies lead their work when selecting topics, providing information, evaluating events and rating sources? Which editorial structures shape their decisions? The different levels of journalists’ coping with the uncertainty of scientific knowledge will be analyzed in each relevant dimension: on the level of media content the topics, presentation, sources, framing and evaluation of science in media coverage; on the level of journalists the characteristics, occupations and attitudes of those who produce science coverage.As the interviews are based on the results of the content analysis, especially comprehensible findings can be expected. Those will help to understand the role of mass media in the development of the public’s understanding of science.


Blöbaum, B. (2016 [im Erscheinen]): Wissenschaftsjournalismus. In: Bonfadelli, H. et al. (Hrsg.): Forschungsfeld Wissenschaftskommunikation. Wiesbaden: Springer VS

Nölleke, D. (2016 [im Erscheinen]): Panikmache oder Katastrophenhype. Wie Medien über Gesundheitskrisen berichten. In: Lesch, W. (Hrsg.): Wissenschaftskommunikation in der Gesundheitsforschung. Berlin: Medizinisch Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft:

Nölleke, D. (2013): Experten im Journalismus. Systemtheoretischer Entwurf und empirische Bestandsaufnahme. Baden-Baden: Nomos.

Conference Contributions:

Blöbaum, B. &Nölleke, D. (2012). “If you doubt leave it out!” Journalists’ Processing of Uncertain Scientific Information. Vortrag auf der 1st Conference on Journalism Studies, Santiago de Chile, 27.-29.06.2012.

Blöbaum, B. & Nölleke, D. (2011). Journalism and Scientific Evidence. Vortrag auf der 61. Jahrestagung der International Communication Association (ICA), Boston, 26.-30.05.2011.

Blöbaum, B. & Nölleke, D. (2010). Evidenzbearbeitung in der Wissenschaftsberichterstattung aktueller Massenmedien. Vortrag auf dem 47. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Psychologie (DGPS), Bremen, 26.-30.09.2010.

Blöbaum, B. & Nölleke, D. (2010). Journalism and Scientific Evidence. Vortrag auf der Science and the Public Conference, London, 3./4.07.2010.

Nölleke, D. (2012). “If you doubt leave it out!” Communicating Scientific Uncertainty in German Mass Media. Vortrag auf der 12th International Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference (PCST), Florenz, 18.-20.04.2012.

Nölleke, D. (2010). Der journalistische Umgang mit wissenschaftlichen Evidenzen. Vortrag auf dem Forum Wissenschaftskommunikation, Mannheim, 29.11.-01.12.2010.



Prof. Dr. Bernd Blöbaum
Institut für Kommunikationswissenschaft
WWU Münster
Bispinghof 9-14
48143 Münster
0251 – 83 23004


Daniel Nölleke M.A.
Institut für Kommunikationswissenschaft
WWU Münster
Bispinghof 9-14
48143 Münster
0251 – 83 24655

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