The SMC Media Tracker

The Science Media Centre, in conjunction with Meltwater News, has been tracking the coverage of science-related issues in the media, and introduces here the first of what will be monthly reports.

The SMC Media Tracker is aimed at identifying not only the incidence of science-related coverage in the media, but also the events which might contribute to increased coverage – this year’s swine flu pandemic, for example.

The SMC Media Tracker shows coverage of the named topics from July 1 2008 to September 30, 2009 with analysis of some of the main trends and issues covered during the period.

(Note: click on the graph to enlarge it)

meltwater chart 3 july 08 - sep 09

Commentary over the fold…


Climate Change and the ETS

Both climate change and ETS-related references peaked during the same periods, namely August 2008, November/December 2008, and September 2009.  These were the points, respectively, when the Labour government won support in Parliament for its ETS scheme, discussion of the ETS in the run-up to the general election and most recently, the National Government’s review of the ETS, accompanied by such events as the 10-20% emissions reduction target being set.

Coverage of “agriculture” and “pastoral greenhouse gas emissions” not surprisingly, tracks closely with coverage of the ETS and climate change.

Science and technology

References to “science” and “technology” in the New Zealand media follow a similar trend line during the year however the word “technology” is mentioned at least twice as much as “science”.

Making up the difference are numerous references to consumer electronics, the internet and the general application of technology. In the period covered there were never fewer than 100 references to science in any given week and no more than 405. Technology-related stories peaked in October 2008 with over 900 stories published in the space of one week referencing “technology”.

Seasonal dip

The January-February period is the dead zone of the year for science and technology with references to both tailing off rapidly during the Christmas and summer holiday period.

Generally, science and technology references in media stories were tracking higher in the second half of 2008 than they were in 2009, which may indicate a squeeze on specialist sections of magazines and newspapers that traditionally focused on science and technology coverage.

A tale of two science stories (click for larger view)

smc swine flu vs climate change