At the Frontiers of Faith and Science: Media Framing of Stem Cell Research Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Smith, Nicole Elise
    • Affiliation: Hussman School of Journalism and Media
  • At any given time, there are a number of issues on the media, and subsequent public, agenda. It is certainly arguable that, currently, stem cell research is one such issue. The ethical considerations surrounding stem cell research are fueling increasing debate in science, politics, and religion. Based on the ability of the media to set the public agenda, and given the fact that stem cell research provokes such vehement debate, it is crucial that we have a clear understanding of how the media frame stem cell research. The purpose of this study is not to attempt to solve the stem cell debate. Rather, this study is a framing analysis of both textual and photographic media coverage of stem cell research. The study examines both newspaper and newsmagazine coverage of stem cell research from 1998 through 2006. The results of the study show that the political strategy frame was the dominant frame of nearly half of all newspaper articles, which supports the findings of previous research that science news tends to focus on political maneuvering rather than substantive scientific context. However, for news photographs, the science frame and the politics frame were both largely prominent. Taken as a whole, the findings indicate that political exploitation of the topic may be overshadowing the medical potential and ethical dimensions of stem cell research. Further, the findings show that scientific context was not a dominant frame of the articles, indicating that the political aspects of the debate are not necessarily being placed within sufficient scientific context to allow for the public to engage in informed public debate. Thus, the conclusion of the dissertation is that the media are tending to cast more heat (controversy) than light (understanding) on the subject of stem cell research.
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  • Johnston, Anne
  • Open access

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