Science journalism and changes in the Public Sphere
Our research work focuses on current developments in science journalism, in a context marked by the development of online information. We wish to characterise these changes and show what consequences they can have, both for the publicising of science and the construction of the professional identity of science journalists. To do this, we propose an analysis of the interrelationship between the actors involved in science communication, articulated with a socio-economic analysis of the Internet media that science journalists use to communicate. With this approach, we should be able to question many discourses circulating about the Internet’s role in the publicising of science. Some say that the Internet allows people to have better access to science knowledge, and that there is less censorship, whereas there are others who think the Internet is a threat. We would like to produce an analysis which does not normalise the identity of science journalists, and that is why we base our study on interactionist theoretical frameworks, instead of functionalist ones. We take into account recent developments in the “sociology of professions”, in which professions are no longer closed territories. Indeed, a good number of studies about journalism tend to show that journalists have many different practices, that there are lots of different representations about journalism, and that is why we can say that journalism is a “vague” profession (Ruellan, 2007). So, to study science journalism on the Internet, we think that we have to look at the practices and representations that are not legitimated as being part of science journalism, for example science blogging, or science communication on social networks. We wish to conduct a parallel study of the socioeconomic situation of the different actors and the different structures that make up the landscape of online scientific communication. We are interested in the “Cultural industries” model (Bouquillon, 2008), because it makes it possible to consider heterogeneous economical and social situations. Our methodology will aim primarily to consider the following two levels of discourse that structure the profession of science journalists: the speeches being made by science communication actors, and the discourses arising out of the products of science journalism. Practically, that means that we will first conduct some interviews, in order to look at deontological discourses on science journalism, and that we will collect some science communication products. And, second, we will conduct a sociodiscursive analysis of all this material. After that, we should be able to see what practices and what representations really change because of the Internet.