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Veterinary/zoology session

Presentation of biological knowledge in the Hungarian news media
Molnár Orsolya - year 5
SzIE, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Department of Zootaxonomy
Supervisor: Dr. Zoltán Korsós


Mass media has a very important role in the relationship between natural sciences and the society by simplifying and forwarding the information to the general public.

In my thesis firstly I present a case study of how a specific scientific subject, the dog barking analyzing software developed by Hungarian ethologists and French professionals, appears in the Hungarian news media and how these reports reflect on the original study.

Secondly, I compare a couple of printed and online biological articles with regard to their use of nomenclature, to the presence of authorship, to the access of the article and the number of illustrations. Thirdly, I present the results of a questionnaire filled in by 1400 college students to inquire what young people think about the presence of science in the Hungarian media.

My study shows that the new software to identify the dog and the situation of barking appeared in the media in many ways. Some of the reports were exaggerated, they wrote about dog dictionaries, and that now we can understand what our dog says. Mostly the journalists interviewed the Hungarian researchers, but some of them only presented the official Hungarian News Agency’s release of the story.

All of the Hungarian science magazines have a properly educated editorial board, and they usually call upon respected scientists to write about their research. There were very few biological news in the two national newspapers, and neither were any other natural science overrepresented. The science news mostly were short, and appeared in the last pages next to the police reports, weather forecast, and rumours. The case was much better with the online newspapers, because both of them have a frequently updated “Science” section. There is a very big difference between the two, however, on the [origo] website the journalists usually go after a subject, ask the Hungarian scientists, while on the Index website there are more short reports.

The questionnaire showed that 60% of the participants have large interest in natural sciences. The internet has seemingly a determining role in college students’ life, because 90% of those who have private connection, use the internet as a source of news. Surprisingly, 60% of these young people read printed newspapers too, meaning printed media still has a future.

In conclusion, I can say that there is a general need for news of natural sciences, but the mass media just partly satisfy this claim. There has never been a similar survey in Hungary before, and it would worthwhile to carry on my research, to take other age-groups into consideration, and expand the media analysis to a bigger sample as well.

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