Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

ISSN: 2165-7912

Open Access

Science-Trained Journalists at University Public Relations Divisions: Trying to Find Them!


J. Sean McCleneghan

This content analysis study explores if science-trained journalists are specifically writing science stories for
general media consumption in public relations divisions at U. S. comprehensive research universities. In a national economy today that rivals the Great Depression, are research universities able to hire more science-trained reporters to tell their stories about cutting edge science and technology? With the severe economic cutback of science-trained reporters at mainstream metropolitan newspapers and cable television stations from 2008-2012, who is left in the Fourth Estate to independently critique the science research produced at our comprehensive research institutions? Are those “laid off” science-trained reporters finding employment at comprehensive research universities? Are science-trained reporters writing those important science stories or do university general assignment staff reporters craft them for local, regional, national and international media consumption? This content analysis study of the 49 U.S. universities belonging to the science consortium suggests few science-trained reporters from 2008-2012 have been hired at the research universities. In fact, more general assignment writers with journalism degrees continue to craft most of the science stories for understaffed PR divisions of the major research universities belonging to science consortium.


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