Narrative as a mode of evidence in public discourse about genetic research (2017-2020)

About the Project

Genetic research is popular – as a field of inquiry, but also as a topic in mass media. It is mainly therapeutic applications and the fear of uncontrollable gene mutations that account for the overwhelming attention afforded to genetic research by society as a whole and in the media, despite the fact that the topic is highly abstract and, thus, difficult to communicate. This raises the question how results from genetic research may be presented to a lay audience and how evidence may be attributed to research which is potentially impenetrable for regular citizens. As a non-scientific audience lacks the expertise to routinely evaluate scientific findings, journalism has the crucial role of setting out the appropriateness of research results and conveying which findings are deemed to be evident to a media audience. Journalists in fact engage in (second-level) practicing evidence. On the one hand, journalists themselves are recipients of scientific evidence; on the other hand, they communicate scientific evidence to the public at large – certainly not without transforming scientific evidence according to media logics.

This project explores the use of narratives for practicing evidence in the media. We assume that media – in addition to the practice of evidencing through presentation of methods and data borrowed from science – use narratives to explain and qualify genetic research.

 

Narratives have a privileged position among all possible presentation forms: Audiences are familiar with this type of everyday communication; also, narratives facilitate memory, interest, understanding, accessibility and relevance attribution in scientific topics. This is especially true for topics that are abstract and cannot usually be experienced in daily life – such as genetic research.

 

In a standardized content analysis of a wide array of print media coverage on genetic research, we explore narratives as a mode of evidence, and compare it to other modes used in the media. The analysis includes the focus of the story on genetic research (e.g., story about gaining scientific insight, about the people concerned by the study results, or about the scientists involved), the level of narrativity as well as references to fictional master plots such as the Frankenstein myth. Ultimately, we relate these categories to the valence of media coverage.

 

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Susanne Kinnebrock & Prof. Dr. Helena Bilandzic

Project managers: Magdalena Klingler

Project duration: 2017-2020

Funding: Part of the DFG-Research Unit “Practicing Evidence - Evidencing Practice in Science, Medicine Technology and Society“

Interessted links

Link to the project website of the research unit "Practicing Evidence - Evidencing Practice in Science, Medicine Technology and Society" at TUM School of Education:

 

PRESENTATIONS AND PUBLICATIONS

Publications:

Bilandzic, H., Kinnebrock, S., & Klingler, M. (2020). The Emotional Effects of Science Narratives: A Theoretical Framework. Media and Communication, 8(1), 151–163, DOI: 10.17645/mac.v8i1.2602 (available at: https://www.cogitatiopress.com/mediaandcommunication/article/view/2602/2602)

 

Kinnebrock, S., Bilandzic, H., & Klingler, M. (2019). Erzählen und Analysieren. In K. Zachmann & S. Ehlers (Ed.), Wissen und Begründen. Evidenz als umkämpfte Ressource in der Wissensgesellschaft (S. 137–165). Baden-Baden: Nomos. Open access at: https://www.nomos-elibrary.de/10.5771/9783748903383.pdf?download_full_pdf=1

 

Presentations:

Bilandzic, H., Kinnebrock, S., Klingler, M. (2021, September). Stories of science: A content analysis of narratives and narrativity in newspaper coverage of genomic research. Presentation (accepted) at the 7th European Communication Conference (ECREA), Braga, Portugal.

 

Kinnebrock, C., Bilandzic, H., & Stahlhut, T. (2021, März). Stories about Villians, Mad Scientists and Failure? Patterns of Evidence Criticism in Media Coverage of Genomic Research. Presentation at the symposium „Critiquing Evidence Criticisms: The Condition and Challenge of evidence Criticisms for Democratically Constituted Knowledge Societies” of the DFG-Research Unit 2448 “Practicing Evidence – Evidencing Practice”, Loveno di Menaggio, Italien.

 

Bilandzic, H., Kinnebrock, S., Klingler, M. (2020, Mai). Evidencing Practices of Science Journalism in the Media Coverage of Genomic Research. Presenation at the ICA-Conference, Gold Coast, Australien.

 

Bilandzic, H., Kinnebrock, S. (2020, Februar). Narratives as evidencing practice in the science coverage of genomic research. Presentation at the international conference “Practicing Evidence - Evidencing Practice: How is (Scientific) Knowledge is Validated, Valued and Contested”, München.

 

Klingler, M., Kinnebrock, S., & Bilandzic, H. (2019, Mai). The never-ending science story: Master plots of science in newspaper coverage of genomic research. Poster Session at the 69th International Communication Association Conference (ICA): Communication Beyond Boundaries. Washington, DC, USA. 

 

Klingler, M., Kinnebrock, S., & Bilandzic, H. (2019, April). Journalistische Evidenzpraktiken in der Berichterstattung über Genforschung. Presentation at the spring conference of the study centre of the der Leopoldina, Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften, Halle (Saale).

 

Klingler, M., Bilandzic,H., & Kinnebrock. (2019, Februar). Narrationen als emotionalisierende Kommunikationsstrategie in der Wissenschaftskommunikation: Potentiale und Herausforderungen. Presentation at the third anual conference of the DGPuK Division Sience Communication, Braunschweig.

 

Klingler, M., Kinnebrock, S., & Bilandzic, H. (2018, November). Do Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll, and Mr. Hyde matter? Emerging master plots in the press coverage on genomic research.Presentation at the 7th ECREA European Communication Conference, Lugano, Schweiz.

 

Bilandzic, H. (2018, Juli). Wirkung von Narrationen. Presentation at the workshop “Narrationen als Evidenzpraktik – Theoretische und methodologische Reflexion“, University of Augsburg, Augsburg.

 

Kinnebrock, S. (2018, Juli). Medienlogiken und Mediengeschichten. Presentation at the workshop “Narrationen als Evidenzpraktik – Theoretische und methodologische Reflexion“, University of Augsburg, Augsburg.

 

Klingler, M. (2018, Juli). Von verrückten Wissenschaftlern und edlen Helden. Zum journalistischen Rückgriff auf Masterplots wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens in der aktuellen Wissenschaftsberichterstattung. Presentation at the workshop“Narrationen als Evidenzpraktik – Theoretische und methodologische Reflexion“, University of Augsburg, Augsburg.

 

Klingler, M. (2018, Juli). Narrationen als Evidenzpraktik im öffentlichen Diskurs über die Genforschung. Eine Analyse journalistischer Evidenzpraktiken in der Berichterstattung zur Genforschung. Presentation at the workshop „Narrationen als Evidenzpraktik – Theoretische und methodologische Reflexion“, University of Augsburg, Augsburg.


Klingler, M., Kinnebrock, S., & Bilandzic, H. (2017, November). Mediengeschichten und Evidenz. Presentation at the lecture series “Vom Wissen zur Gewissheit: Evidenzpraktiken in Wissenschaft, Medizin, Technik und Gesellschaft“ at the TUM, München.

 

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Public Communication
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Media Effects and Processes

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