LSC doctoral student Leona Yi-Fan Su recently presented a study at the annual convention of the International Network on Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST) in Florence, Italy. The study, “Audience tectonics: Implications of changing news environments for public understanding of science,” reveals that audiences for science news are shifting rapidly with younger people turning away from traditional news outlets. However, the story may be more complex than simple cohort shifts over time.
The result shows that the shifts in science news consumptions occur across two dimensions. First, there are fewer and fewer respondents who rely on a single, traditional medium, such as newspapers or television, for their science news. Instead, audiences increasingly rely on mixed media diets with multiple news outlets playing equally important informational roles. Second, within mixed media diets, some cohorts rely primarily on a combination of mixed media outlets, while others rely on a combination of online-only sources and traditional news media. In fact, the findings suggest that online-only sources, such as blogs and online-only news outlets, are increasingly important for younger individuals and for males. More importantly, those who specifically rely on online-only sources for scientific news tend to score higher on knowledge in both nanotechnology and nuclear energy.