CSS Colloquium - Simone Rödder: The Sciences' Media Connection via Science Media Centres – on the role and function of a new type of organization
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The Sciences' Media Connection via Science Media Centres – on the role and function of a new type of organization
Simone Rödder, Universität Hamburg, KlimaCampus
The Science Media Centre (SMC) is a fairly recent type of organisation at the science-media interface with the aim of getting scientists' voices in the mass media when controversial science stories such as climate change hit the headlines. The first SMC has been founded in 2002 in the United Kingdom (SMC-UK). To date, SMCs are in operation in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and Denmark and there are plans to set up further ones in Germany, Italy as well as a European SMC in Brussels. Despite of its supposed success, the role and function of this new body and its impact on science communication have so far been hardly addressed by social scientists. In my talk, I will, firstly, clarify the idea of SMCs based on theoretical considerations and, secondly, discuss the role and function of this organisation on the basis of an explorative interview study of the UK case.
The SMC-UK has been set up with the political mission to renew public trust in science and scientists. It is argued that the SMC achieves this purpose by acting as a ‘contact system’ (Luhmann), i.e. by formalising media contacts in a generalised relationship, which makes repetition expectable and results in that both scientists and journalists are considerate of future contacts. It will be concluded that acting as a ‘contact system’ allows the SMC to fulfil its science policy purpose while also neatly serving journalistic needs.