MESSENGER: Media, Science and Society: Engagement and Governance in Europe

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MESSENGER developed guidelines on science communication and scientific advice through popular media.

The specific objectives of MESSENGER were:

1.    To further develop the existing Guidelines on Science and Health Communication to ensure their relevance and applicability to media reporting and communication of science, technology and health issues across Europe.
2.    Through consultation with relevant actors and stakeholders, to determine perceptions of media science coverage – particularly the communication and discussion of risks and benefits arising from research.
3.    To establish how communication of risk and discussion of risk-related issues impacts on perceptions of scientific enterprise in EU countries.
4.    To develop a comprehensive methodology for analysing the production and coverage of science, technology and health news.
5.    To determine the various roles and styles of print and broadcast media in a representative sample of EU countries.
6.    To develop relevant products for briefing and training of EC-funded scientists in the dissemination of their work, based on consultation with all groups of relevant actors and stakeholders.
7.    To develop materials/modules based on the Guidelines to assist in the training of journalists.
8.    To develop materials of relevance to "consumers" of science news to help them identify critical issues and encourage further dialogue between scientists, journalists and civil society.

All the results of the project are available in the Final Report. Two specific outputs of MESSENGER: "Guidelines for scientists on communicating with the media" and "Layperson's Guide to decoding science and health stories" are also published as separate documents.

Basic information

Country: Netherlands, United Kingdom

Coordinator: Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC), UK, www.sirc.org

Programme: FP6

Project Acronym:

Target groups: researchers

Topic: Biology, Biomedicine, Medical sciences, Pharmacology, Physiology

Start year: 2005

End year: 2006

Url: http://www.sirc.org/messenger/intro.html

Contact person: Simon BRADLEY, Social Issues Research Centre, UK, coordinator (at) messenger-europe.org

The objectives of the projects have been achieved through:

1.    Europe-wide consultation with representatives within the science, technology and health communities, journalism organisations and representatives of civil society. A detailed analysis of the consultations has been conducted with summary output embedded in the European Guidelines.

2.    Media analysis of science, technology and health issues across Europe to assess the cultures, roles and styles of the media in communicating science. Detailed qualitative and quantitative analyses of media coverage in six EU member states have been conducted. Outputs have been incorporated into the Guidelines and into support materials.

3.    Dissemination and exploitation of the results via the establishment of overlapping networks involving journalists, broadcasters, teachers of science journalism, representatives of the various scientific disciplines and representatives of civil society groups. In liaison with central members of these networks, MESSENGER is disseminating the Guidelines and associated materials and seeking their endorsement by leading European scientific and journalist institutions, NGOs and other relevant bodies.

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