Talking science: science in the news on BBC Radio

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Scientists talking on a BBC radio daily news programme face a number of challenges. They need to present their research so as to persuade the public of its value, and balance a concern with newsworthiness with a need for professional caution. The news programme as a whole is faced with a requirement to present a balanced view of controversial issues while prioritising science over non-science. This paper examines the strategies used in 18 broadcasts, covering a range of scientific issues including health, the environment, and space exploration. In the most successful broadcasts, scientists manipulate the concept of status, to stress their role as interpreters of evidence. They also stress both the novelty and usefulness of their work, and add an affective dimension by indicating that research is interesting or exciting. The paper examines in detail some instances of balancing caution and confidence, as well as the challenges faced by programme makers in attempting to include competing voices in the broadcasts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDiscourse in and through the media
Subtitle of host publicationrecontextualizing and reconceptualizing expert discourse
EditorsMarina Bondi, Silvia Cacchiani, Davide Mazzi
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages91
ISBN (Print)978-1443882545
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


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