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One minute for science

by Paul Jay, CBCNews.ca

The U.S. Project for Excellence in Journalism came out with its state of the news media report this week, and the news was, unsurprisingly, not good for coverage of science and technology.

According to the report, science and technology news accounted for two per cent of all coverage in newspapers and network evening news, one per cent in online news and less than one per cent for U.S. cable news networks.
The cable stats are particularly ghastly: the report said that if you watched five hours of cable news, you would see about one minute of science and technology coverage. Coverage of the environment wasn't much better, accounting for one minute and 25 seconds per five hours.

The paltry coverage for those with a craving for science and technology news may be softened however, by the rise in importance of tech trade journals, bloggers and news aggregator sites devoted to all things geek.
But the numbers are less comforting for a subject less well-represented in the blogosphere like education, which accounts for less than one per cent of coverage, or one minute and 22 seconds every five hours.

The results are part of a larger trend, the study says, one in which U.S. news media interests are narrowing, and not broadening.

As the report states:

"Other than Iraq — and to a lesser degree Pakistan and Iran — there was minimal coverage of events overseas, some of which directly involved U.S. interests, blood and treasure. At the same time, consider the list of the domestic issues that each filled less than a single per cent of the newshole: education, race, religion, transportation, the legal system, housing, drug trafficking, gun control, welfare, Social Security, aging, labor, abortion and more."

It would be interesting to see how Canada's news media stacks up to similar scrutiny. But certainly, Canada's news media is no stranger to the same pressures faced in the U.S. As the report states: "Even as the media world has fragmented into more outlets and options, reporting resources have shrunk."

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