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Popular science just not popular any more
2007-07-03 19:30:53 Xinhua English

BEIJING, July 4 --A recent survey has shown that over the past 10 years, the number of media professionals reporting on popular science has more than halved.

Xu Jian, a lecturer at the Media College at Shanghai Jiaotong University, which conducted the poll, said in 1996 there were 100 reporters in Shanghai solely concerned with reporting on popular science issues. At the end of last year there were just 49, he said.

The results have triggered much debate on the reasons for the severe reduction in science reporters. Some say the survey is an accurate reflection of the current situation and that local governments should invest more on promoting popular science education. Others, meanwhile, have said that fewer reporters didn't necessarily mean fewer or lower-quality reports, and that current coverage of the subject is good.

China Daily spoke to a selection of media and science professionals:

"The public is paying more attention to the advancement of new technologies and the resulting economic gains than the theories behind them.

"At the same time, local governments are spending less on developing popular science reporting.

"One obvious example is that of the former Shanghai Popular Science Film Studio, which was closed. Most of its employees moved to work for the Shanghai Film Group.

"A lot of TV programs on popular science were shut down due to the lack of money. The Shanghai Documentary Channel is now the only channel broadcasting popular science programs produced by Chinese TV directors."

Jiang Hong, deputy director of the Media College at Jiaotong University

"I don't think the results of this survey are reliable. Reporters today need to have a broad knowledge of many disciplines and work on different topics which are not confined merely to scientific fields.

"Also, did the survey include reporters working in new media? If not, the figures are not accurate."

Ruan Lizhu, senior editor of Shanghai Science Weekly

"At university I majored in computer science, so I believe I have a competitive edge over reporters whose educational backgrounds are in Chinese literature or journalism.

"To succeed you must have knowledge of both the sciences and humanities."

Cong Ming, postgraduate student studying journalism at Jiaotong University

(Source: China Daily)

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