Guest lecture by Catriona Bonfiglioni

This Wednesday, Dec 6th, at 16:00 in REC C 10.20 the CPC visiting guest scholar from UTS Sydney, Catriona Bonfiglioni, is giving a guest lecture. The title of the talk is  “Citizen journalism for health, science & the environment – Investigating innovations in participatory journalism”.

Please find a teaser about the talk’s topic below!

In the post-truth era, controlling narratives is politically and commercially rewarding. Key tactics include gagging or undermining confidence in truth speakers such as journalists, academics and ethical politicians, propagating fake news (Schwitzer, 2017), and de-funding high quality, fact-focused journalism. These trends, together with cuts to public service journalism and media investors’ focus on cost cutting, create a news media environment hostile to expert health and science journalism. Evidence is emerging of how digital disruption is decimating specialist journalism thus increasing citizens’ reliance on amateur and sponsored story telling while evidence grows of the public’s susceptibility to misinformation (Pennycook & Rand, 2017). Leading Australian news outlets’ coverage of health and science has fallen almost 30 per cent and there is reduced reporting of important diseases such as heart disease (coverage has halved) and diabetes (40 per cent reduction) (Bonfiglioli, 2017). Coverage of climate change and global warming is double 2005 quantities but only one third of 2007 coverage. Audience research suggests key categories of journalism are missing from or neglected by the news (Bonfiglioli, 2017). Questions arise as to whether news consumption patterns, sponsored stories and false news threaten younger cohorts’ ability to make health and environmental choices. Thus this project considers how new, participatory models of health, science and environmental journalism can be developed to counter such trends. Philanthropic and entrepreneurial journalism may help but new approaches to journalism and journalism education are needed to meet future needs for trustworthy health, science and environmental news. This paper explores threats to health journalism and experimental responses including critical appraisal training, crowd-sourcing, social journalism, and citizen science. Many citizens are already engaged in daily documentation of nutrition and physical activity, in selecting and sharing health news and in active citizen science (Stuart Allan & Ewart, 2015; Stuart Allan & Redden, 2017). A new citizens’ health, science and environmental journalism is proposed which empowers citizens with critical evaluation skills (Davis, 2017; Higgins & Begoray, 2012; Luce, Jackson, & Thorsen, 2017). Health journalists and educators identify critical appraisal as a key skill of health journalists and one which depends on training (Livengood, 2015). ‘Critical health media literacy’ skills (Higgins & Begoray, 2012) are vital to citizens’ health and improving these skills could enhance citizens’ ability to contribute to participatory health journalism by bearing witness to the physical, social, commercial, policy and media environments in which we make decisions which shape our risk of disease.
Selected references

Allan, S., & Ewart, J. (2015). Citizen science, citizen journalism: New forms of environmental reporting. In A. Hansen & R. Cox (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Environment and Communication (pp. 186–196). Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxford, UK: Routledge.

Allan, S., & Redden, J. (2017). Making citizen science newsworthy in the era of big data. Journal of Science Communication, 16(2), C05 01-12.

Bonfiglioli, C. (2017). Facing the challenges to health journalism in a post-truth era. Paper presented at the 6th Future of Journalism Conference, 14-15 September, Cardiff University, Wales, UK.

Davis, S. (2017). Citizen Health Journalism: Negotiating between political engagement and professional identity in a media training program for healthcare workers. Journalism Practice, 11(2-3), 319-335.

Higgins, J. W., & Begoray, D. (2012). Exploring the borderlands between media and health: Conceptualizing ‘critical media health literacy’. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 4(2), 138-148.

Livengood, J. (2015). The state of health journalist training and education: An exploratory qualitative study. (MPH), University of Maryland

Luce, A., Jackson, D., & Thorsen, E. (2017). Citizen Journalism at the Margins. Journalism Practice, 11(2-3), 266-284.

Pennycook, G., & Rand, D. G. (2017). Who falls for fake news? The roles of analytic thinking, motivated reasoning, political ideology, and bullshit receptivity.

Schwitzer, G. (2017). Pollution of health news. 356, j1262 doi: 1210.1136/bmj.j1262